Throughout the 1700s, the turnpike system spread throughout Britain, charging travellers a toll (fee) at different points along its roads to pay for maintenance and improvement. This tollhouse is in Oborne, Dorset. Often situated in isolated areas of the country, the toll collectors needed a good view from these houses in case of attack from thieves or protestors.
The advent of steam hauled railways in the 1820s quickly revolutionised passenger travel and the transport of goods across Britain and the wider world. This is an early train ticket for a journey from Liverpool to Warrington.
John McAdam revolutionised road travel in the 1800s, through his ‘Macadamisation’ method. The greatest advance in road construction since Roman times, his principles are still applied to road building today.
Travelling in Europe was very popular among the British nobility, gentry, and professionals of the 1700s and 1800s. It became traditional for upper class men and women to embark on a lengthy ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe, where they would experience the languages and history of the continent while showing off their own status and wealth. It was also popular with British artists, writers and thinkers of the time, keen to broaden their experience and exchange ideas – particularly with their counterparts and the new celebrities and centres thrown up by the upheavals of revolution.
In 1789, a coal ship named Adventure ran aground at the mouth of the River Tyne during a violent storm. The sea was too rough for the local boats and nothing could be done to save the thirteen-man crew. This tragic loss prompted a competition to design a new type of boat, that could carry 24 people and was suitable for rescues in rough and stormy seas. The result was the first ‘Life-Boat’.
This is a painting of an Australian kangaroo by the artist George Stubbs. This was the first time people in Britain had seen such a creature.
This is the first steam powered railway engine to run on a public railway. It was designed by George Stephenson and sparked a transport revolution that transformed the lives and fortunes of people across Britain and the wider world.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Britain is one of Britain’s most important ships. By combining size, power and innovative technology, Brunel revolutionised sea travel and paved the way for modern ship design.
In the late 1700s Captain James Cook (1729 – 1779) led three now legendary voyages to explore the Pacific Ocean in ships named Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure and Discovery. To people living in Britain at the time, the Pacific was as mysterious and unreachable as outer space is to ordinary people today. With his crew Cook voyaged further south than any European before him and brought back new knowledge to Britain of the seas, lands, peoples, plants and animals they encountered. The three voyages transformed knowledge and understanding among Europeans about the wider world and its people.
In 1805 large tracts of the continent of Africa remained unknown in Britain and Europe. Mapmakers were quick to draw on new information, newly sophisticated measuring instruments, and new consumer interest in the wider world. Their efforts produced maps that were more scientific and objective on one level, but remained deeply coloured by their biases and preconceptions.