history of the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent
|1763 Act of Parliament approving the building of a turnpike road|
1763 Act of Parliament approving the building of a turnpike road Source: "The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent" John Ward, 1843
Condition of the roads:
"The public roads throughout the District (like most other roads in the kingdom) were in a very wretched plight, narrow, circuitous, miry and inconvenient…
In the year 1762 we have the following petition presented to Parliament in favour of an Act for making a Turnpike Road, from the Liverpool and London Road at Lawton, to Stoke-upon-Trent; there to unit with the Newcastle and Uttoxeter Turnpike Road, which had recently been improved:-
Petition to Parliament:
"In Burslem, and its neighbourhood, are near one hundred and fifty separate Potteries, for making various kinds of stone and earthenware; which, together, find constant employment and support for near seven thousand people.
The ware in these Potteries is exported in vast quantities from London, Bristol, Liverpool, Hull, and other seaports, to our several colonies in America and the West Indies, as well as to almost every port in Europe.
Great quantities of flint-stones are used in making some of the ware, which are brought by sea, from different parts of the coast, to Liverpool and Hull: and the clay for the making of white ware is brought from Devonshire and Cornwall, chiefly to Liverpool; the materials from whence are brought by water, up the rivers Mersey and Weaver, to Winsford, in Cheshire; those from Hull, up the Trent, to Willington; and from Winsford and Willington, the whole are brought by land-carriage to Burslem.
The ware, when made, is conveyed to Liverpool and Hull in the same manner as the material brought from those places.
Many thousands of tons of shipping, and seamen in proportion, which in summer trade to the northern seas, are employed in winter in carrying materials for the Burslem ware; and, as much salt is consumed in glazing one species of it, as pays annually near £5,000 duty to Government.
Add to these considerations the prodigious quantity of coals used in the Potteries, and the loading and freight this manufacture constantly supplies, as well for land-carriage as inland navigation, and it will appear, that the manufacturers, sailors, bargemen, carriers, colliers, men employed in the salt-works, and others who are supported by the pot trade, amount to a great many thousand people; and every shilling received for ware at foreign markets is so much clear gain to the nation, as not one foreigner is employed in, or any material imported from abroad for any branch of it; and the trade flourishes so much, as to have increased by two-thirds within the last fourteen years.
The Potters concerned in this very considerable manufacture, presuming from the above and many other reasons that might be offered, the Pot trade not unworthy the attention of Parliament, have presented a petition for leave to bring in a Bill to repair and widen the road from Red Bull, at Lawton, in Cheshire, to Cliff Bank, in Staffordshire; which runs quite through the Potteries, and falls at each end into a Turnpike road. This road, especially the northern road from Burslem to the Red Bull, is so very narrow, deep, and foundrous, as to be almost impassable for carriages; and in the winter, almost fro pack-horses; for which reason, the carriages, with materials and ware, to and from Liverpool, and the salt-works in Cheshire, are obliged to go to Newcastle, and from thence to the Red Bull, which is nine miles and a half, (whereof three miles and a half, viz. from Burslem to Newcastle, are not Turnpike road), instead of five miles, which is the distance from Burslem to the Red Bull, by the road prayed to be amended."
Opposition from Newcastle:
It seems from the concluding part of this statement (which is omitted), that the people of Newcastle, of that day, were extremely hostile to the intended Act of Parliament for improving the thoroughfare through the Potteries, on account of the injurious effects they anticipated, by the diversion of carriages and travellers, from their town, and had raised every possible opposition to the measure, in Parliament; but the act, nevertheless, passed in the session of 1763, with and abridgement of the road at its south end it being made to terminate at Burslem, instead of proceeding onward to Cliff Bank, Stoke.
The Trent & Mersey Canal:
Hence greater facility of communication was opened between the Potteries and the River Weaver at Winsford; but far more extensive means were yet required to meet the rapidly increasing energies of British manufactures; and the great desideratum of an inland communication between the German ocean and the Irish sea was, within a few years afterwards, effected by that noble undertaking, the canal from the Trent to the Mersey, intersecting this district, and giving to and receiving from it such an extraordinary degree of traffic, as left all former experience far behind...."
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