At the start of the Gerogrian period, many roads were difficult to travel along - they were often muddy during the winter and dusty during the summer. This caused long delays and a danger to passengers travelling on the outside of a stagecoach who could easily be thrown from the carriage.
Transport needed to improve from the mid-1700s as the population of Britain increased and the growing new industrial towns wanted better roads so raw materials could be delivered to the factories and finished products could be exported.
Turnpike Trusts were set up who would charge people to use newly improved roads and then use the money raised from tolls to pay for their upkeep. Whilst they were successful in improving Britain's major roads, many minor roads were still left in a bad conditions and many Turnpike Trusts charged unreasonably high tolls to make a high profit.
The four main men who pioneered British road building were:
- Gerneral George Wade - the first person to build more than 250 miles of roads in Scotland.
- John Metcalf - a blind Yorkshireman who built more than 180 miles of roads in the Pennines. They had a camber on them to help drain water into ditches at the side and consisted of heather and branches with stones on top which went solid when traffic travelled on it.
- John Loudon Macadam - who chose to build cheaper and more affordable roads and who was appointed the general surveyor of roads in Great Britain in 1827.
- Thomas Telford - who built more than 1,000 miles of roads in Shropshire and Scotland, with his biggest achievements being the London to Holyhead Road and the Menai Straits Bridge.
Improved roads meant:
- a more efficient Royal Mail postal service was set up in 1784 by John Palmer;
- improved coach services;
- new business and jobs created along the roads, such as at coaching inns and stables;
- newspapers could now be delivered around the country;
- fresh food and dairy produce could be transported around the country much faster.