Study Sources G, K and L. Use the evidence of these sources and your own knowledge, to explain the importance of good communications to the success of iron production in the Coalbrookdale area. It is clear from these sources that the importance of good communications was emense in Coalbrookdale and to the success of iron production. In source G, Abraham Darby II’s wife Mrs Abiah Darby writes that Abraham Darby was the author of many improvements. This means that he improved the transport system in Coalbrookdale for the use of his production.
He made roads with sleepers and rails as she says and this would have been very useful because the wagons could carry vast amounts of goods down the roads in an easy journey whereas before, he had just uses ordinary roads and ordinary horse and carriage. Another benefit of this is that the 3 horses that pulled the new wagons could carry as much as twenty horses could previously so the improvements were massive and this is why Abraham Darby was such a good innovator. Perhaps the most important factor was the discovery of Coke for smelting.
As Abiah Darby says, the Coalbrookdale iron trade, or the Darby’s iron trade in particular would have dwindled away if it weren’t for this discovery as woods for charcoal would have been totally used up in no time. This is important to realise because the communications that Abraham Darby introduced were very useful indeed. The coke that he had discovered were very near to where he had his furnaces which meant it took less time than having to take the horses all the way over to the woods and back.
It is important to note also that Abraham Darby’s wife was writing this source so it is likely that this is a biased account. In source K, the information is taken from ‘Britannia’ the guidebook to important places in Britain, 1806. It tells us how the bridge over the river Severn was made. Just reading the text I can notice that the communications must have been good and also the way it was built suggests that it was well co-ordinated and exceptionally made for something that had not been done before.
It mentions how a scaffold was erected and everything else worked smoothly around that and that there were no accidents or obstructions to the river itself. The building of this bridge was influential because once again, Abraham Darby, this time number III had created a safe, but also extremely practical and constructive method of communication. The bridge meant that his wagons and horses and everything else could cross over the bridge rather than having to go round it, which I presume, used up a colossal amount of production time and all this meant that journeys were quicker.
Anyway, the bridge not only was exceptionally useful but it also at the time was an extraordinary achievement in modern history and centuries later, it still is which says a lot for the Darby family and their success at Coalbrookdale. It is also worth noting that the bridge was made out of local materials, meaning that it was cheaper to build. Source L shows Telfords tollhouse. This shows how extra the toll road would have generated income.
Also, this road was a route, which went through Birmingham, which was and is a very populated city and people and resources could come from there and it was this that generated more money for them. Also with this payment, the roads could be maintained meaning that the journeys would still be smooth. In terms of the iron industry being kept so that it was successful, good communications would be vital. By this I mean that Iron needed to first be mined out of the ground and then somehow taken to the furnace. My preference for this would be by the sleeper and rail roads.
After everything was finished and the iron was ready to go, there would need to be a way to get the iron itself distributed. This is why Darby built the roads with iron rails in the first place I believe because the high quality iron would ensure that eroding was rare and also at the same time, ensure that costs were kept down. This is the same principle as the toll roads basically because both of these things meant that everything could be kept in top condition and that money was generated. On top of this, all the materials they needed, mainly iron, were instantly available to them.
The river Severn, which flowed straight through Coalbrookdale was a useful form of transport and trade also because it flowed straight to Bristol, which was a large trade city at the time. All in all, the communications were totally of the essence to the success of iron production in Coalbrookdale. You could maybe even go as far as to say that their entire success depended on it and if it wasn’t for the anticipation and ingenuity of the Darby’s, Coalbrookdale would be just another place on the map today.