Report – John McAdam to Edward Locker – 29 Jul 1823

Document Type: Report
Date: 29 Jul 1823
Correspondent: John McAdam
Recipient: Edward Locker
Archive Source: TNA ADM 79 61
  • Transcription
  • Notes
  • Comments (0)
  • Change font
    If columns/tables do not appear straight, change font
Aldstone Moor, 29th July, 1823 

      On inspection of the several roads to which my attention was directed by you, I find them in a most deplorable state, both as regards the lines and the surface.

	The same may be observed of all the roads in this part of the country, the want of management being apparent throughout. The lines of road have been so improperly carried, that in many places the rise is one in seven, and in several parts one in five. With respect to the construction of the roads, they are altogether the worst that have yet come to my knowledge, - not only have the old defective methods been followed in the formation, stoning, and subsequent repair of the Roads, but the work has been executed in the most slovenly careless manner, without method, and regardless of expense. No pains have been taken to preserve the roads from winter floods, by keeping open the waterways, they are washed out so as to present the appearance of a bed of rocks, rather than an artificial road. Under such circumstances it must be obvious that the traffic required by the commerce and the agriculture of the district must be carried on with difficulty and a great expense. In the circle of which Aldstone is the centre, having a diameter of about thirty-six miles, all the articles produced in the country, and requiring transport, are of a heavy description, viz. lead and lead ore, coal, lime, timber, and stone. And the distances to be travelled are considerable, the rate of carriage at present is high, yet the persons employed are very inadequately paid – such are the difficulties arising from the condition of the roads.

	The quantity of lead and lead ore carried upon the roads within the circle under consideration, may be computed at 14,000 tons annually; of coal, perhaps 3,000 tons; timber and other heavy commodities, 3,000 tons, making an aggregate of 20,000 tons per annum. Supposing the average distance carried to be only ten miles, and that the improvement of the roads to lower the price of carriage at the very moderate rate of three-pence per to per mile, the direct saving would be 2,500l. per annum. The indirect saving of expense of carriage of provisions, and other light commodities, and the facilities to be given to the agricultural and other interests of the country are not so easily estimated, but may be supposed to be of much consequence, because the situation of the mines in a very high country has collected an extra population of 6,000 persons dependent for a supply of provisions on a lower country, distant from twenty to thirty miles, and because lime is much and very usefully employed in the agriculture of the country for the grass Lands required for the maintenance of a great number of horses employed in the transport. In addition to all the advantages belonging particularly to the domestic economy of the circle, good roads will open communications from South to North and from East to West, through a country in the centre of the kingdom, which in its present state forms a barrier to all improvement, by which the traffic will be much increased, and the toll revenues consequently improved.

	On the road from Hexham to Penrith the greatest impediments are Cupola Bank, Whitfield Fell, and Hartside Fell. The road over Cupola Bank may be made at a rise of one foot in twenty-seven, without an increase of distance beyond half a mile, which will probably be regained soon after the ascent is attained. Whitfield Fell may be crossed at a rise of one foot in twenty-six on the eastern side, and on the western side about one foot in twenty-one to Clargill, and from thence to the summit one foot in twenty-eight. Hartside Fell may be crossed at a rise of one foot in thirty from Aldstone to the summit, and at one foot in twenty from Melmerby to the summit. All the other parts of this road may be so much improved, as to be considered nearly level. The road of communication to Nent Head, which branches from this road at or near Clargill, may be greatly improved, so as no part of it may rise more than one foot in twenty-three.

	The tolls at present levied on these roads amount to about 1,500l. per annum, and the additional tolls that may be levied on the road, to be added, may be safely estimated at 1,700l. making an income of 3,200l. The future expenditure for repairs, allowing for statute labour to be performed, and including surveyor’s salaries, will be about 1,775l.; interest of debt, 1000l.; income as above 3,200l.; surplus 425l.

	I have the utmost confidence that there will be a material increase of the toll, as soon as the roads are put into a proper state of repair.

	I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,

					(signed)			J. L. McAdam

[The newspaper report then adds ‘Here follow resolutions of the Trustees of the Road, approving of Mr McAdam’s suggestions’, without giving the text]
McAdam’s report in response to Locker’s directions (see Locker to McAdam 19 July 1823) and Locker’s covering letter of 29th July

Leave a comment

We welcome further information or corrections on topics and incidents mentioned in individual letters. It might take a while before your comments are checked for adding to public view within the website. We cannot undertake further research in response to questions.

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


General Discussion
Suggested correction or addition


  Return to search results or refine/create new search
The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467