Saturday, June 25, 2022

Roads in the Area

M5 cartoon © Ray Aspden

Nowadays the most obvious road through Wychbold is the M5 motorway, opened in 1962, and widened in 1985, causing great changes in the parish. Before then the A38 divided west from east, but that could be crossed so did not cut one area off from another in the way that the motorway did. The A38 follows the line of a Roman road so inhabitants have had plenty of time to become accustomed to it. It leads via Droitwich to Worcester in the south and Birmingham to the north.

The A38 is not the only Roman road in the parish. Just north of Droitwich, Crutch Lane forks off and follows a line due north towards Elmbridge. It is thought that this road ran to Greensforge near Kingswinford.

Some of these roadways must have developed to carry salt out of Droitwich, and fuel into the town for salt making but the only named Saltway is the road to Hanbury from Droitwich. This, the Hanbury Road B4090 from Droitwich to Alcester follows the line of the old Roman road, which forms part of the boundary with Droitwich to the south.

There is also evidence of early tracks – a Ridgeway runs north-east from Crutch Lane starting as a footpath, joining Ridgeway Lane then traceable again as a footpath along a hedge boundary to Upton Warren. Other lanes cross the main routes – the cross roads at the Crown Inn being very ancient and the site of a Toll as far back as the fourteenth century.

Where there are roads and rivers there must have been bridges or fords. The A38 crosses the River Salwarpe at Chapel Bridge, originally Goose Ford in Droitwich, at Leather Bridge at Impney, and at Upton Warren. Crown Lane crosses Turn (formerly Tun) Bridge. The Henbrook goes under the A38 shortly before it joins the Salwarpe. These are all old bridge sites.

Roman soldier supervising the surveying for roadbuilding

The Romans laid out a network of roads across Britain. These roads are easily recognised as they are much straighter than the roads which developed along the ridgeways, or from traveling around the edges of cultivated fields. To make these straight roads which sometimes crossed hilly areas or marshy ground, the terrain was surveyed.

To see a map of the regional Roman roads, click on the link below

Motorcycles outside the Crown Hotel in 1938

Motorcycles and sidecars were a popular way of travelling in the early 20th century. Here travellers stop for refreshments at the Crown Hotel in 1938. Image reproduced with permission from “Memories of Wychbold before the Motorway”

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