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ERCALL MAGNA

A brief journey through time

 
 

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A brief history (According to Rob)

Getting around

The first form of transport was walking and many footpaths still exist in the area, as shown on the footpaths map. The gentry, farmers and some dealers would have used horse and cart, during this period there appears to have been a large amount of incidents of either riders or carts either maiming or killing themselves or pedestrians as can be seen in the Quarter session accounts.
As the roads became more widely used tolls were introduced to pay for their upkeep, the only tollhouse or gatehouse that I know of still standing within Ercall Magna is in High Ercall. There is evidence within the parish registers to suggest that there was also a gatehouse near the Mill and also one in Walton although there exact location is unknown to me. The collection of Tolls seems to have ceased some time after the introduction of the railways
In 1862 the Wellington and Drayton Railway Company, backed by the Great Western Railway Company developed the 16-mile branch line between Market Drayton and Wellington, this opened in around 1867, with the nearest station being at Crudgington. In 1897 the Great Western absorbed the Wellington and Drayton Railway Company. Passenger numbers on this line were low so in the 1930s the company added several Halts along its route, one being at Rowton, and another at Ellerdine. In September of 1963 all passenger services were withdrawn and the line was used for freight only. The line had short reprieve during the mid 1960s as a diversionary route when the West Coast line was being electrified, and through a proposed new marshalling yard at Walcot, which didn't come to fruition. In 1967 the line was closed down for good. There’s still evidence of the old route in the form of unused bridges and tracts of land where the rails once laid. I don’t remember the trains using this line, only the metal work left behind, one thing that makes me think of the old railway is a hedge between Longdon on Tern and Bratton at the junction of Long Lane and Rushmoor Lane were one of the old bridges was removed in the early 1970s, with the road being leveled a hawthorn hedge was planted shortly after that. To this day (May 2008), to my knowledge its height has never been cut back.
The buses were the other form of transport with High Ercall being a midpoint-changing place between Wellington and Shrewsbury, originally ran by the Midland Red Bus Company and now by Arriva, the service over recent years has gradually dwindled although minibuses were put on to collect passengers from outlying villages and bring them to connecting buses at High Ercall. Reasons for its decline, I guess, is that those that can rely on their own transport for convenience and that the limited timing of bus journeys for some is also inconvenient.
Back to the roads. The road layout within this area hasn't really changed a great deal since the dogleg was taken out of the road between Cotwall and Tern before the 1880s and the improvements to part of the A442 which took some of the bends out of, and widened the old road and makes up the eastern boundary of Ercall Magna. The 2 main roads are the B5062, Newport to Shrewsbury and B5063 Wellington to Wem (although it goes on through to Welshampton), which meet at the top of Cotwall Bank and part again at the T junction with the Cleveland Arms on it, other than those, some are narrower than the B roads with few markings and the rest single track. Most of the roads in the area, like so many other areas, are not particularly well maintained and because of this the quality of the roads in the area don't seem to be what they used to, some people put this down to road usage having increased but in my opinion with the opening of bypasses around Shrewsbury, the extension of the M54 coupled with the closure of MOTEC / CENTREX at Osbaston, general road traffic through this area seems to have decreased. Most problems are potholes, occasional flooding and surfaces that seem to lose adhesive qualities far to quickly or perhaps complete lack of periodic 'gritting' as they used to be after being re-laid being a cause of accidents.
Knowing where you were could also have been a bit of a problem. In the past the signposts were cast, and many still survive off the busier ‘B’ roads, these had what I've always referred to as a ‘polo’ with the name of the village of it. As these cast signs became damaged and broken they were gradually replaced by new tin ones, but the ‘polo’ in most cases was not and this, due to the lack of any other signs was the only indication to where you were. Along with these signs came the name Telford with Wellington being removed off some completely, even though Wellington is the nearer Town. (Telford in my opinion is not a town at all but rather a commercial and administrative centre). In early 2011 some new road signs are now being put up.

In recent times (up to Apr 2011) there have been what I assume some call 'road improvements', likely the parish and borough councils, I don't share their definition of this.
Firstly there are now an excess of ridiculously and in the main unnecessarily low 30 mile per hour limits, not even most modern tractors go that slow, with that there’s the decrease in speed limits from 40 to 30 in certain areas, those being Roden and Longdon on Tern. Both of these had the area extended, I can only assume because by doing so it could be reduced within the guidelines of the Dept of Transport. Longdon on Tern has also had the bridge messed up with kerbs being laid over it where once vehicles could and did so drive safely (Ok it could be for the odd pedestrian to use, but what a waste of resources if so). There’s a new 40 limit near Walton, which in my opinion is there partially (mainly?) due to a lack in ability of the highways dept, their inabilities in no small way some time ago aiding in the death of 2 persons. The A442 at Cold Hatton has also had the 40 mph treatment, that too is a mess with the road having to be widened where they had put unnecessary bollards, I assume to prevent over taking.
This obsession that seems to be with speeding motorists has taken another step within the area with the introduction of ‘Community Aware’ speeding areas (with the occasional use of a trap), Longdon on Tern has one, as does Shawbury. I’m sure I’m not the only motorist who has a tendency to look on the persons who instigated these as nothing but hypocrites, I believe the term commonly used is Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY). I doubt for one minute that the law abiding citizens who wanted these stick below every speed limit, I hope what goes around will come around for these people and they get their just rewards, a speeding ticket from elsewhere, or better still their local area they had a hand in.
It’s just a shame that ‘road improvement’ doesn’t mean using the money they seem to have available for the obstruction and hounding of the motorist and spending it on road maintenance instead, i.e. fixing potholes, improving and not destroying road layouts, improving surfaces and drainage. (Ok, it’s a pet hate of mine, ridiculously low rural speed restrictions, speed vans and detectors of whatever source and crappy roads that take away the joy of driving / riding. Rant over, oh and its not because I have a speeding offence either.)

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   02 Mar 09

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