By Yoland

In the 1830s came the Age of the Train, which did not bode well for the canals when such loads as coal and stone could be transported much faster, and to towns without canal access.  Steam engines were becoming part of everyday use, from road building to harvesting.  These fiery monsters, were used to transport coal and stone and also started to be used for many jobs in agriculture.  Foden & Sentinel engines built in Shrewsbury can be seen at the Shrewsbury Steam Rally in August.

It will be noted that Ruyton XI Towns does not have, and never did have, even before Mr. Beeching, a railway station.  The Chester to Shrewsbury railway line was opened in 1848, with a station at Baschurch and one at Rednal, so that passengers could transfer from the canal Fly Boat to the train.  However, Thomas Kenyon of Pradoe hated trains, he drove his own carriage to Shrewsbury just like a commercial service, always on time and picking up passengers and their goods to go to market, and then returning to drop them off at home.  Kenyon was a great fan of Thomas Telford who, when not designing canals and aqueducts, was building the wonderful road from London to Holyhead, a joy for Thoman Kenyon, driving his carriage.  The reason Ruyton is the only large village in the county without a railway station is, thanks to Thomas Kenyon who refused, for some time, to allow the hated railway to cross his land.  However, money talks, so in the end Thomas allowed the Shrewsbury to Chester line to cross his land – but no railway station.

See www.disused-stations.org/rednal_west_Felton  For some very interesting images and maps.

In the 1851 Bagshaw`s Trade Directory, John Taylor was listed as a Carrier.  This would be a horsedrawn wagon with seats down each side and, if you were lucky, a canvas cover.  Carriers would use a particular pub in town to drop off and pick up passengers. In 1863 John Taylor and Benjamin Price are listed having a regular service to Shrewsbury on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Benjamin also did the run to Oswestry on Wednesdays — that`s a busy day.

In an article written in 1980, Charles Wilkes remembering life in Ruyton in 1926, recalls “A limited bus service ran to Oswestry and Shrewsbury on Wednesdays and to Shrewsbury only on Saturdays;  And there was still a motorized carrier`s cart, which served Little Ness, Valeswood, Hopton and Nesscliffe on Saturdays”.

The carriers also catered for excursions, by transporting the choir and other groups to Baschurch station for a for a trip to the seaside.

By 1917 the carrier service was reduced to Saturdays only, and had disappeared in 1934 when Charles Parry ran a taxi service `Distance no object`.

In 1889 Shropshire County Council became responsible for maintaining main roads and bridges and in 1893, for rural main roads, although these were little used as there were no cars and long distance traffic went by rail.  The normal way of surfacing roads was to lay dry stones and allow the traffic to grind them in.  I remember Bill Williams telling me he had done this work on the road to Baggy Moor in his youth.  To aid this bedding in, the council bought its first steamroller – probably built by Sentinel or Fodens of Shrewsbury.  A series of Lengthmen were responsible for the maintenance of a stretch of road.

The effects of motor traffic were first noticed in the 1900s.  In 1903, when there were only about 125 motor vehicles on Shropshire`s roads, complaints of dust clouds created by speeding vehicles began to reach the council and the first signs of deteriorating road surfaces began to appear.  The answer was tarmac but this was expensive so the Council demurred until the situation became more acute in 1911, when a government grant was available.  However, the resurfacing could not keep up with the growth in traffic, especially the unprecedented increase of military and goods traffic during the First World War.  By 1923, Shropshire`s main roads were in a deplorable condition.

In 1924 Shropshire County Council appointed a new County Surveyor, Mr. W.H. Butler. He was described as `Insistent and ruthless` persuading the council to adopt a policy of wholesale resurfacing and renewal of county roads.  In 1925-6, 112 miles of main roads were rebuilt and resurfaced, a record at that time for road building in England and by 1928 the roads were in excellent condition, despite a 62 per cent increase in traffic since 1925.   In 1930 the mileage of roads under the council`s care was increased from 767 to 3,308 when it took over all the roads formerly maintained by rural districts.  By 1939, in spite of council economies, Butler had completed a comprehensive programme to reconstruct the county`s roads.

Perhaps it was Mr. Butler who surfaced what had been part of the old trackways and Drovers` routes connecting the hollow ways which are still visible.  There are some little roads in the area which do appear to be a bit pointless, unless this was the case.

After 1945 the council found it hard to maintain the quality of roads as in the 1930s, due to the extra traffic created by another war, aggravated by bad weather and the high cost of materials.  Since 1937 trunk roads were the government`s responsibility but Shropshire was well down the Government`s priorities.  In the 1960s, financial restrictions were eased for the first time since the 1930s and the council adopted a programme to bring its classified roads up to standard.  However, in 1967 the Midland Road Construction Unit was created to carry out all road schemes costing over 1million, curtailing the council`s control over Shropshire Roads.

The information above is from `Shropshire and its Rulers` by G.C. Baugh and D.C. Cox, published by Shropshire Libraries in 1979.

The first Shrewsbury ring road was completed in 1933 (now the B4380) avoiding Telford`s road which went right through the centre of the town.  The modern Shrewsbury bypass was built in 1994 and the Nesscliffe bypass in 2005.  We now await the changes at the A5/A483 junction outside Oswestry.

When we came to live at Brownhill House in 1969 I needed a good bus service as I did not drive.  In those good old days, we had a bus service to Shrewsbury and Oswestry every half hour shared by the Midland Red and Vaggs Buses.  Then, many households did not have a car and hardly anyone had more than one car.  There was no necessity for vehicles to clutter up the village streets.

Since all the new houses have been built, cars can be seen in the garage, on the drive and on the road outside.  A house with two working parents and two teenagers, almost automatically has 4 cars.  As other villages and towns are the same, the poor old Burlton to Llanymynech turnpike and the Platt bridge are always in a `parlous condition`. Every so often a bunch of men come and fill in the holes, which sometimes last all of 6 months, then they come round again and repeat the sticking plaster.

This road was very strongly built, to carry wagons loaded with limestone from Llanymynech to the lime kilns at Weston Wharf.  Yet, the traffic keeps on increasing at an alarming rate with delivery vehicles, increasingly heavy tractors, and lorries which are sometimes double in size.  Our 18th century road has so far only succumbed to ever increasing numbers of potholes.  However, inspection of the retaining wall along the Brownhill will show that it is deteriorating badly, how long before it collapses into one of the properties on the north side of the road?

The long promised North West Relief Road and dualling the A5 is probably the only way the traffic will lessen through the village – but I doubt it will be in my lifetime

 Relief rd junction
 North West Relief Road Chaos at Shotatton crossroad  Dear old Vaggs Buses For more information on Vaggs Buses google Vaggs buses Shropshire which takes you to www.old-bus-photos.co.uk


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