The Technical Development of Roads in Britain

Article excerpt

Graham West, The Technical Development of Roads in Britain, Ashgate, Aldershot (2000), 173 pp., L39.95.

This book is described by its author as primarily `an examination of the development of the construction of the road pavement, by which is meant the structure of the road', as opposed to subjects such as embankments and cuttings, bridges and tunnels and road layout. A secondary theme is said to be `the need for roads' and the consequent development of `the road network in Great Britain'. The author spent his professional life in the Transport Research Laboratory and is therefore particularly well qualified to write on the technical aspects.

The book is best considered in two parts. The earlier chapters (on prehistoric trackways, Roman roads, `the years of neglect', military roads in Scotland and eighteenth and nineteenth-century roads) are a disappointment, mainly because the author is not up to date with the secondary literature. On turnpike roads, for example, the bibliography omits the standard works by Albert and Pawson, citing instead work by the Webbs (published in 1913) and a schools resource pack from Berkshire. The entire corpus of work in the Journal of Transport History has eluded him. …