The Road

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"We are arrived at a chief turning-point in the history of the English highway. New instruments of locomotion, a greater volume of traffic, a greater weight in loads, and vastly increased rapidity in road travel have between them brought us to an issue: either some very considerable and immediate change in the character of the Road, or a serious and increasing handicap in our rivalry with other nations through the strain and expense of an out-worn system.
"The moment therefore calls for some examination of the Road, its theory and history. That need has prompted me to write this essay; but I must say at the outset that I approach my task with no expert qualification. My only equipment for the general sketch I intend is historical reading and the experience acquired in the writing of certain monographs upon the topography of the Road in the past. I can do no more than suggest lines of thought which, if they lead to practice, need a detailed science I do not possess. ...
"We have had (as I shall develop in more detail) five great moments ... in the history of the English road system: the moment when the British trackway was superseded by the Roman military road; the moment when the latter declined in the Dark Ages; the moment when the mediaeval system of local roads grew up on the basis of the old Roman trunk roads and around them; the moment when this in its turn declined in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and the re-casting of the road system by the turnpikes of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. To-day the sixth great change is upon us.
"It is incumbent upon us then to-day to get ourselves clear upon the theory and the history of the Road, and I propose in this essay to take them in two sections: first, the Road in general; next, that special institution the English Road." - From the introduction

Listeners are encouraged to access the online text of this book at Project Gutenberg in order to view the excellent maps and diagrams that enrich the text. (4 hr 22 min)


Introductory Material 8:21 Read by Devorah Allen
Part 1: The Road in General. Chapter 1: The Origin of Roads 12:31 Read by Sarah Rothwell
Chapter 2: The Crossing of Marsh and Water 22:31 Read by Sarah Rothwell
Chapter 3: Passability 16:18 Read by Sarah Rothwell
Chapter 4: The Obstacle of Vegetation 12:56 Read by Anita Hibbard
Chapter 5: Political Influences 9:58 Read by Sarah Rothwell
Chapter 6: The Reaction of the Road 24:02 Read by Beeswaxcandle
Part 2: The English Road. Chapter 7: The Road in History 11:20 Read by LaBouna
Chapter 8: The "Blindness" of English Roads 22:07 Read by Sagar Patke
Chapter 9: Five Stages 13:25 Read by Beau Wood
Chapter 10: The Trackways 18:41 Read by Sarah Rothwell
Chapter 11: The Making of the Roman Road 16:14 Read by thirstyfish
Chapter 12: The Dark Ages 40:07 Read by Nigel Kerr
Chapter 13: Wheeled Traffic and the Modern Road 18:24 Read by LaBouna
Chapter 14: The Future 16:00 Read by czandra