Who made the biggest contribution to road building?
-Wade - Metcalf - Macadam - Telford
General George Wade (1673-1748) only began building roads aged 54 after investigating how serious the threat of the Scottish rebellion was. He reported back that the road conditions would make the journey difficult for troops and decided to help build roads in the Scottish highlands.
General Wade's roads were approximately five metres wide, however in some places; the width was doubled for the amount of wheeled traffic. This may sound wide compared to our roads today, however, the transport methods were very different then and the main way was horse and carriage. As many of his roads were built on the highlands; much of it was uphill, so when he built them he built traverses (zig zags). He also gave the roads firm foundations and built the roads to be cambered (curved) so that the water drained off either side into ditches.
Another road builder is John Metcalf (1717 - 1810) a.k.a Blind Jack Metcalf. Although he was blind, he still managed to do many things in his life including playing the violin and road building. He only began building roads when he was 38 after deciding that the roads in England were terrible and he wanted to do something about it.
After a turnpike act was passed for a road to be built between Harrogate and Boroughbridge he was asked to build three miles of road. This was the first road that he did, he continued to
build roads until he retired at age 75, by which time he had built 180 miles of turnpike in the Yorkshire area.
Metcalf built mainly in Yorkshire, although he did build some roads in the Lancashire area. As Metcalf was blind, he couldn't do the job...