Roadmen in Newton
From ancient times in England the care and maintenance of Roads was the responsibility of the parish. The work was mostly done indifferently to a poor standard using statutory labour and supervision. The poor state of the roads led to the establishment in the 17th century of Turnpike Trusts who could levy tolls for the use and upkeep of some of the roads of through routes.
Minor roads remained in a very poor state. They could be ‘Presented’ by Justices of the Peace at Quarter Sessions and orders made for their repair but this was unpopular and not often resorted to. This state of affairs continued until the changes in local government of the late 19th century made the newly formed County Councils responsible for the care and improvement of all its own roads.
In practice the work was delegated to ‘Divisional Highway Districts’ each with its own clerk, treasurer and surveyor. Ewyas Lacy parishes came within the ‘Dore Highway District’, later this district was to be subsumed into the ‘Dore and Bredwardine Rural District Council’. Each district had its own surveyor, plant, equipment and labour force. A steam driven Road Roller was perhaps the major item of plant. It was normal to deploy the roller with its supporting work gang on planned campaigns, spending a month or more in each parish before moving on.
Some time in the 1920’s the road gang came to Newton and Richard Jenkins was on hand to capture on film some of their activity. It appears that then, as now, a lot of the activity was ‘standing about’.
John Pritchard (senior), Reg Francis, Harry Gladwyn (onlooker), Charlie Powell (Driver), Frank Powell