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for improving the Holyhead road, that he had an opportunity of carrying into execution a plan of road-making suitable to a great traffic on completely perfect principles. In that year, a sum of money having been voted by Parliament for the improvement of the Holyhead road, Mr. Telford was consulted by the commissioners with respect to the best plan of accomplishing the object Parliament had in view. He strongly recommended that he should be allowed, if employed by them, to execute all the new works upon this line of road in the most substantial and perfect manner, in consequence of its great importance from being the main communication between England and Ireland.
The commissioners having adopted Mr. Telford's advice, and Parliament having continued to grant further sums of money, an extent of eighty-two miles of new road has been made by him through North Wales, between Chirk and Holyhead: three miles between Chirk and the village of Gobowen, near Oswestry, and seven miles on the Holyhead and Chester road. Thirty-one miles have also been made by Mr. Telford at various places on the Holyhead road between London and North Wales, with money advanced to the Parliamentary Commis
sioners, on loan, by the Commissioners for giving Employment to the Poor. These roads have been constructed in the most substantial manner. A foundation of rough pavement has been made as a bed to support the surface materials. They are uniform in breadth and superficial convexity. They are completely drained, and when carried along the face of precipices, they are protected by strong walls. They are acknowledged, by all persons competent to form a correct judgment on works of this kind, to be a model of the most perfect road-making that has ever been attempted in any country.
The obvious utility of a work on road-making, explaining the principles on which this business should be carried on, and containing an illustration of those principles by a reference to the plans, specifications, and contracts which have been made use of in constructing this extent of new road, through a country presenting every kind of difficulty, has suggested the present publication. The object of it is to point out, in a clear and concise nanner, the best method of tracing out and constructing roads, under every variety of circumstances; and it is confidently expected, that the course which has been pur sued of proceeding on experience by referring
to the identical plans, specifications, and contracts by which so great an extent of perfect road has been successfully made, will be found to have attained this object.*
Extract from Mr. Telford's first Annual Report on the Holyhead Road, dated May 4. 1824, p. 17.:
"SHREWSBURY TO HOLYHEAD.
"This portion of the great Irish road having been originally constructed in a very imperfect manner, was, till within the last five years, one of the worst roads in the kingdom. Through North Wales, in particular, no attention. whatever had been paid to the essential points of a good road; it was narrow and crooked, hills had been passed over, and valleys were crossed without any regard to inclinations: no solid foundation was prepared; a very superficial coating of very bad stones or gravel was all that covered the soil; the transverse sections were often just the reverse of what they ought to be; the draining was miserably defective, and either no protecting fences, or very weak ones, existed along steep hill-sides and tremendous precipices.
"On this district there were no less than seven distinct Trusts; the revenue arising from the tolls being very limited, the trustees could not afford to employ persons whose education and previous pursuits qualified them to act as surveyors. The consequence was, that the road got into unskilful hands, and its state of repair was just as bad as the principle of its construction.
"The increasing importance of this line of communication at length attracted the attention of Parliament. I was directed to make a survey of it in 1810; and, it having been satisfactorily shown to the successive Committees of the House of Commons, that the country through which the road passed did not in itself possess the means of providing funds for effecting any essential improvement, an Act of
Parliament was passed in 1815, empowering commissioners, therein named, to expend the sum of 20,000l. in making such alterations as they might deem expedient.
"Under the power of this Act (the 55th Geo. 3. c. 152.) the commissioners commenced their operations in the autumn of 1815; and, according as further grants were from time to time voted by Parliament, the road progressively assumed its present character. Those parts which had been the most inconvenient and dangerous have been changed to perfect specimens of what roads ought to be; steep declivities have been reduced to perfectly easy inclinations; and narrow, crooked, ill-protected portions have been converted into broad, safe, smooth, and well-constructed roads.
"The value of these improvements was felt and appreciated; and it became of the highest importance to preserve them in a perfect state, by providing an efficient system of management.
"By the Act of the 55th Geo. 3. c. 152. the new pieces of road, when completed, were to be made over to the local trustees, to be by them repaired and maintained. But the local Acts were imperfect; the old tolls too low; every Trust deeply in debt, and the mode of management not so perfect as it ought to be. Under these circumstances, it was thought advisable to apply to Parliament for an Act to secure to the public the lasting benefits of those improvements, by placing them under the care of one Board of Commissioners.
"Accordingly, in May, 1819, the Act of the 59th Geo. 3. c. 30. was passed, in which six Trusts between Shrewsbury and Bangor were consolidated into one, and vested in fifteen commissioners therein named. The operations of this Act commenced from the first day of August following; and from that period a totally new system has been adopted on the whole line of road. At the first meeting of the commissioners they appointed a professional engineer as their general surveyor, also a clerk and a treasurer, and fixed upon a plan of management, of which the following is an outline.
"The total distance from Shrewsbury to Bangor Ferry, being 85 miles, was divided into three districts; the first, being 23 miles, extending from Shrewsbury to the boundary between Shropshire and Wales, at Chirk Bridge; the second, of 30 miles, from Chirk Bridge to Cernioge; and the third, of 32 miles, from Cernioge to Bangor Ferry.
"Over each of these districts an assistant surveyor or inspector was appointed, care being taken to select these officers from good practical workmen. Under these inspectors, a working foreman was placed on every four or five miles, with such a number of labourers under his charge as were sufficient for maintaining the road in proper repair.
"It was ordered that the labourers should be, as much as possible, employed by task, in quarrying rock, gathering field stones, getting gravel, breaking stones, scraping the road, loading materials into carts, and all works that are reducible to measure.
"The duties of the general surveyor and clerk were, to go along the line every four weeks, the surveyor to examine the practical operations, settle all acconnts with each inspector, and give the clerk a certificate, showing all the money due. The clerk to collect the tolls, and to pay every one what appeared to be owing by the surveyor's certificate, and lodge the balance of his receipts with the treasurers, Messrs. Beck and Co. of Shrewsbury."