Transport

The fourth in this award-winning series of broadsheets from The British Land Company PLC is devoted to the various forms that Transport has taken over the centuries. It looks primarily at examples of buildings and structures that are associated with the business of moving people and goods from one place to another. Some are relics of a bygone era, others are in everyday use, but all are examples of building types that, in one form or another, exist today.

Transport has helped shape the modern world to an extraordinary degree. Without turnpike roads, Britain would have remained a fragmented nation rather than a true United Kingdom. Without canals, there would have been no means of bulk-delivering the raw materials of the Industrial Revolution, nor of distributing the finished goods. Without railways, there would have been no 'next-day' delivery for items needed hundreds of miles away, no means for working people to go away on holiday. The 18th century author Daniel Defoe was literally describing another world when he wrote about a titled lady going to church in a carriage dragged along by six oxen, or a load of timber taking a year to reach its destination 60 miles away. What, we might wonder, will the 22nd century make of the transport of our own era?

The movement of people and goods encompasses far more than sleek, exciting cars and glamorous old steam trains. It relates directly to geography, economics, engineering, politics, history and the social sciences, as well as many forms of design. Opening up these aspects of the subject to students should greatly enhance their awareness and understanding of life in Britain.

Right back to Roman times, transport has been instrumental in shaping the kind of world we live in. It can (and should) be argued that the benefits and advances outlined here have not always come about without creating drawbacks and complications of their own. In this respect alone, the possibilities for classroom discussion are rich.

Throughout the country there are many highly visible buildings and other structures that are directly related to transport, most of which can be readily visited. The examples presented here have been chosen not just for their editorial relevance but also for their visual interest as pieces of architecture. By considering the different materials and styles, the marriage of function and form, the distinction between the work of the architect and the engineer, we can begin to understand how and why each structure makes a statement in the landscape. They may not be conventionally handsome, and some might be even considered visually abrasive, but does that make them any less interesting, any less worthy of our consideration?

The British Land Company PLC, (Educational Publications), 10 Cornwall Terrace, Regent's Park, London NW1 4QP

 

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AD100 Roman Roads