Meeting - October 2012

Friday, 26 October 2012 - 7:30pm
A History of Transport in the West Midlands
Roger Cragg

A Powerpoint presentation


On Friday the 26th October we were pleased to welcome Mr Roger Cragg to our meeting to deliver an illustrated talk entitled “A history of transport in the West Midlands”.

Mr Cragg, a Chartered Civil Engineer by profession, delivers various talks on a variety of subjects that may loosely be described as Industrial Archaeological subjects.

His talk commenced with an observation that, during the Roman occupation of England from 55 BC through to 410 AD the Romans had developed a road system throughout the country and employed an organised transport system enabling them to supply and remain in contact with their military sites and settlements. It was after the Romans left that much of what they had organised fell into disuse. Throughout the middle ages trade tended to be localised and packhorse, horse drawn wagons and local river transport were the norm, it was not until the middle of the 18th century and the birth of the industrial revolution that the need to move goods and raw materials around the country in bulk arose.

In 1759 The Duke of Bridgewater overcame the problem of transportation of coal from his mines at Worsley to Manchester and Liverpool by employing James Brindley to design and build what is generally accepted as the first custom built canal in Britain. The Bridgewater canal still exists today and inspired a frenetic period of canal building when many hundreds of miles of canal were built between 1759 and about 1830.

Mr Cragg went on to explain how the growth of the railway in the early 1800’s resulted in the decline of canal transportation and, finally, how the growth of motor transport in the 1950’s resulted in the partial demise of the railways and a boom in road building. The speaker dealt with all of these aspects in a structured way and illustrated them with an interesting selection of photographs and drawings. The canal decline and subsequent resurrection as a leisure facility were commented on and at the conclusion of the presentation a number of those present took the opportunity to have one to one discussions with Mr Cragg on aspects of his talk.

Brian Sadler