Today, the cost of maintaining the roads is the burden of the tax payer and it wasn't much different years ago. In 1700, each parish was responsible for maintaining the roads and bridges within its boundaries. Each adult male in the parish was expected to give six days free labour to road-mending (or pay someone else to do their turn) as part of their duty to the community.
Each year, a Surveyor of roads was elected in the parish to assess what needed doing and to organise the work. Like the labourers, Surveyors were unpaid and lacked expertise in road building. This system for road-mending worked no better in Stroud than it did anywhere else. It is no surprise to find that the parish of Stroud was in trouble with the County Magistrates more than once............
|Following a formal complaint to the Magistrates in 1696 about the state of Bissmore Bridge, Stroud was ordered to do repairs which were completed by April 1697.
In the Autumn of 1736, Stroud was in trouble again. Having failed to repair their highways as instructed, they were ordered by Magistrates to pay a fine unless they could produce a certificate to show that the work had been done.
|Later in the 18th century, a group of gentlemen from the Tewkesbury area published some advice to try and help parish surveyors.
Complaining that the roads in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire were 'founderous and unsafe for travelling', they offered advice about proper drainage, the need for good foundations and the proper quality of stone.
Unfortunately, Cotswold stone was too soft to make good roads. Harder stone was needed but it was difficult and expensive to bring it in carts to Stroud - because the roads were in such a bad condition!!