How Infrastructure Have Changed The Way We Live Our Lives

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Most of us take for granted the infrastructure put into place by the government and rarely do we notice subtle changes to how things work or how things are laid out. Some of the ways things have changed over the years include:

Road networks

Before the 1950s the road network in the UK was an intricate weave of small roads linking small towns to larger cities, so consequentially it could take an inordinate amount of time to reach a destination. However, the opening of a bypass on the 5th of December 1958 was to change the way we travel forever.

The Preston Bypass (part of what we now know as the M6) opened at the end of December 1958 and became the first section of motorway in the UK. The road had no speed limit and there was no hard shoulder or central crash barrier, just two fast lanes on both carriageways and lots of breakdowns due to the speeds the cars were now travelling at.

How Infrastructure Have Changed life

It’s only been just over 50 years since this section of motorway opened but the event is probably one of the most significant milestones in how the landscape of the UK has changed in recent times. In 1958 there were only 4.5 million cars in the UK  whereas today there are over 28 million and there’s over 50,000 miles more road now than there was just these five decades ago.
After the Preston bypass opened the changes to Britain’s road came think and fast. What is now known as a section of the M1 opened in 1959 and in 1965 the 70mph speed limit was introduced. The M25 was completed in 1986 and the first toll motorway opened in 2003.

Lighting and power

Street lighting origins go back to Ancient Greek and Roman times when oil lanterns would line the street in well-to-do settlements, but it was in the industrial revolution that changed the way lighting would help us through the dark winter days and nights.

Gas was the first option favoured by governments with large scale implementation of gas lamps happening in London in the early 1800s. However in 1879 Joseph Swan developed an incandescent lamp which became an immediate success. The electrification of streets and homes started to become widespread in large cities and by 1929 twenty per cent of homes were connected to the National Grid
The spread of street lighting grew, with national standards being set out in 1927, and the sodium lamp being developed by Philips in 1933. Because of this and further changes in the way street lighting was being developed the Ministry of Transport published a report which laid out the standards to which all local authorities had to comply with. These regulations included the mounting height of street lamps their spacing, overhang and distribution of light. By 1954 over 45,000 miles of road network was lit.

Both these changes in our network infrastructure couldn’t have happened without one critical development – electricity. It’s something we take for granted, but the thousands of miles of cabling under our roads and in our homes helps us live the lives we have become accustomed to.

Image is licensed under CC Attribution
George Davidson
About the Author:

The article about UK infrastructure changes was written by George Davidson on behalf of REPL International.

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