Tracking Ships Inroad

The following historic briefing hopefully manages to simply indicate how our relatively insignificant rural villa started routing well trod connections between towns who firstly demanded modern public transport links.


Shipping in a British Empire

Earliest civilisations evolved diverse desires and some inventive methods for seeking further or easier carriage.   Using beasts of burden could well include slaved men, although harnessing superior speed, power or stamina found naturally among various domesticated animals best achieved passage over earths most hazardous terrains, long before widely favouring selective horse breeds.

Facing broader river and sea barriers human settlements grouped along coasts fed by fresh and fertile fishing waters. Canoe and rafts gradually rode such extremes during basic quests for additional food, comfort or invading control.   Navigating vast oceans reliant on oars, intrepid captains mastered natural forces to extend less dependable passage under wind filled sails. Thus our British Isles witnessed waves of armed invaders, who following largest river banks gradually spreading rural populations inland.

Located here in Nottinghamshire and central among England, it was the river Trent which fed sea links into east midlands. Recognised before Roman occupation knowingly used that waterway for exporting mined metals, its growing shipping trade had also realised potential for carrying far heavier cargo than achieved overland.   Claimed by superior Viking Longboats shipping furthest passage up the Trent river into Nottingham, their forces brutally sliced across Britain. Here among familiar forested lands they hunted further from crowded river sides, before eventually settling between Anglo-Saxon farmsteads, uniting into a recognised English population. The Norman invasion formalised lay of the lands and asserted its crowns national control kept through higher county courts. Sheriffs overruled districts, subdivided again into local Manors, whose Lords ruled smallest parish administrations set by Church of Rome clergy.

Ancient influences laid out a regular path through Sutton-in-Ashfield parish. There roads extend into Mansfield, the Manor and old market town British Shipping which affords greater city connections primarily aimed at Nottinghams county centre. Not much surprise then finding speediest transport maintains links with the nations capital, after densely populating London along the Thames river banks which grew around harbouring international trade.

Ships having long carried invading forces towards these smaller isles found tides were turning under 18th century sails.   Achieving naval supremacy upon high seas a British Empire stretched colonial influence searching out for new lands claiming richer bounty.   Foreign produce expanded trade while cargo still included slaves and undesirable deportees. They represented reluctant passengers before slightly safer distant voyagers found regular bookings, much later afforded for pleasure.

Driving Industrial Canals

Back here on rural dry land, the fields and roads found haulage and carriage all mainly undertaken by various breeds of horse. Water mills did start powering the Industrial Revolution during the advent of steam engines. In raising productivity and supplying cheaper exportable goods, the limitations of bulk road transport was found when still reliant upon pack or cart horse slowly treading busy unmade trails.

Canal Towpath Load capacities of shipping inspired construction of inland water ways that began linking British industry, also to Trent waters.   From 1779 horses casually towed heavy narrowboat cargoes along Erewash Canal servicing regional coal fields, before Cromford Canal fully opened 1794 with our closest branch at Pinxton Wharf.

Planned progress for extending that popular waterway into Mansfield encountered long delays caused by objecting parties.   Investment costs for meeting construction and maintenance eventually escalated beyond comparable proportion, although horse drawn canal boats did improve productivity. While manufacturing reached this remoter area, without direct access to those important industrial routes the effect was soon felt in the Mansfield market town. Restrive coal supplies couldn't fully fuel its numerous malting kilns, demanding some alternative method for transporting far heavier cargos.

Coal Trams Train Railways

Trams can now conjure past and modern images of city passenger transport. Their railed use, far from being novel was simply made more practical by innovative engineering skills.   The naming for tramways is claimed dating from the 16th century. Recognised from Swedish origins meaning a beam of wood, Underground Haulage from long straight timbers forming the first basic rails.

Smaller underground tracks allowed women and boys to be cheaply employed for easier hauling of mineral tubs   Horse power already proving far more successful at wheeling bigger wagons first served quarries before any deeper larger mines.   Coal wagons actually hold greatest association when defining a tramway, probably recounting its importance fuelling an 18th century industrial revolution after canal waterways networked national supplies.

Coal TramwayHeavier trams rapidly progressed upon stronger, smoother iron railroads hauled by ox then horse.   Steam engined water pumps initially draining ever deeper mines found their fuller potential to multiply fuel demands. Static engines could extend heavier cabled haulage, presenting one alternative method which would join desperate Mansfield industries to Pinxton Wharf coals.

Their inovative idea was founded upon latest engineering techniques when proposals for a new railroad proved far less disruptive than previous calls for a canal.   Officially forming a Mansfield and Pinxton Railway Company they persistantly negotiated before seeing their vision become eventually realised.   Recalled next as pioneers constructing a significant early railroad connecting our remoter Nottinghamshire areas.   And following that influential industrial tramway route its adopted passengers rode locomotives prior latest modern tracks on the Robin Hood Line.


Written 26 Oct 02 Revised 19 Feb 08 © by Gary Elliott