What Does The Timing And Forms Of Improved Communications Tell Us About The Nature Of Economic Change In Eighteenth Britain 1700-1800? Essay

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The changes in the communications network of eighteenth century Britain was marked by the new innovation of direct government intervention combined with corporate initiative. The birth of the private entrepreneurial spirit led to the improvement and extension of the transport network, the resulting creation of new markets and producer regions and the beginnings of large scale corporate finance. The growth of the postal system combined with trade specific newspapers and meetings of great minds led to the free exchange of information that is essential for the market to respond to price signals. The two primary forms of transport used to convey products, people and goods during the eighteenth century were roads and waterways. The first major change to affect the transport structure was the transfer of road management from the Parish system to the Turnpike trusts. Under the Parish system, local parishes managed the upkeep of the roads via congregational contributions granting free access to the roads to all. The major flaw with this system central to most public goods was the ‘free rider problem’, although it was the local residents that paid for the roads it was the local and passing trade that benefitted most, thus underinvestment persisted and new roads were not built in response to demand. In order to address this issue parliament transferred road management to turnpike trusts from 1663 onwards. These trusts consisted of local businessmen with vested private interest in maintaining the road, and were funded by tolls charged upon the newly privatised roads. The new system was not initially popular with poorer local residents traditionally granted free access to the roads; this led to social unrest and vandalising of gates in West country Wales and Yorks . However, the opposition to the trusts subsided after the benefits of the system were observed and local

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