Before the Industrial Revolution

Before the Industrial Revolution, transportation in Britain was rudimentary (very basic). Roads were poorly built and maintained. Goods were transported on river barges but this was a slow and costly exercise. The railway network was nonexistent, limited to wooden tracks and carriages pulled by horses. It took several days to travel between towns.

Technological innovations made in the textile and iron industries made production of goods faster and cheaper. Advances in steam engine technology led to a number of industries adopting mechanisation. As demand for goods increased, a revolution in the transportation industry took place.

Roads were maintained by bodies of trustees. Tolls were introduced. Canals were built so that large barges could be transported, independent of rivers and waterways. Roads and canals were eventually overtaken by railways. Steam engines were used to transport large loads more quickly and cheaply than by road or canal.