TRANSPORT IN CEREDIGION
THE FIRST TRAVELLERS
The earliest form of travelling was by foot.
There was probably a network of tracks across Britain from about 4,000 BC.
The first road in Ceredigion was built by the Romans. It connected a row of forts from south to north Wales.
TRAVELLING BY WATER
There are no canals in Ceredigion, and most of the rivers are unsuitable for boats. People travelled along the coast in small boats.
After the Romans left it was probably easier to travel by boat than by foot and it may have been easier to sail to Ireland and around the coast of Wales than cross the mountains to England. The early saints may have used boats like coracles (wooden frames covered in animal skins) to cross to Ireland, Cornwall, Brittany and elsewhere.
There were probably ferries across some rivers before the bridges were built. There was a ferry across the Dyfi (north boundary of Ceredigion) to take Archbishop Baldwin across in 1188.
There was a bridge across the Ystwyth (just to the south of Aberystwyth) in 1116 when the timber castle was attacked, and a bridge across the Teifi at Cardigan in 1188 which Archbishop Baldwin crossed on his tour around Wales. The earliest bridge at Devil's Bridge may date to the 12th century. Many bridges were the responsibility of the committee of County Magistrates known as the 'Quarter Sessions'.
We know that many of Edward I's castle builders and soldiers and came by road between 1277 and 1289: some of these were widened to make them safer from attack. Until the late 1700s, Ceredigion had very poor roads and was said to be the most remote county in Wales. Each parish was responsible for maintaining their own roads, but those on busy routes though that this was unfair. There were very few wheeled vehicles in Ceredigion before about 1780. The majority of people walked, or rode on horses or ponies. Goods, including thousands of tons of lead ore, were transported in panniers on ponies while agricultural produce was dragged on sledges.
ROAD IMPROVEMENTS AND TOLL GATES
In order to improve the roads, two Turnpike Trusts were formed in Ceredigion in 1770. They improved old roads and built new ones and charged each vehicle and animal for the use of the road to cover the cost of keeping it in good repair. Tolls were collected at Toll-Gates, set across many main roads. There were 22 in Ceredigion in 1843.
Local people thought the tolls were unfair and from 1839 some rebelled by destroying the gates and attacking the gatekeepers. Over 100 gates in south-west Wales were attacked between 1843 and 1844. Many of the rebels were men dressed as women and were known as Rebecca's Daughters. Following a Government Inquiry, in 1844 the responsibility for roads passed to County Roads Boards and the number of toll gates was reduced. The tolls ceased when the County Council became responsible for road maintenance in 1889.
Cattle, horses, sheep and geese were bred in Ceredigion and taken by foot to be fattened and sold in England. Drovers took them across the hills on tracks that kept them off the busier roads and avoided payment at tollgates. It is said that up to 2,000 cattle passed through Tregaron each year in droves of about 200.
TRAVELLING BY RAILWAY
The first public railway was built in Wales in 1807 (Mumbles, Gower) and in England in 1830. The railway came to Ceredigion from the east via Shrewsbury, Newtown, Welshpool, Machynlleth and Dovey Junction to arrive in Borth in 1863 and Aberystwyth in 1864. A line was built to Pwllheli in North Wales from Dovey Junction. A line from South Wales starting at Carmarthen via 15 stations in Ceredigion including Tregaron and Lampeter arrived at Aberystwyth in 1867. Aberaeron was connected to Lampeter in 1911.
The railways started bus services to and from stations to encourage people to use trains. At first, they were horse-drawn but later had motors.
TRAVELLING BY BICYCLE
The bicycle was invented in 1839 but cycling did not become popular until the penny-farthing (also know as the Ordinary or Aerial bicycle) was invented in 1871. Although difficult to get on and off, the large wheel made it easy to ride, even over rough roads. They became the fastest way to travel other than by train. The safety bicycle was first used in the 1880s and pneumatic tyres were invented in 1888. Bicycles soon became very popular and many cycling clubs were formed.
First invented in 1885
TRAVELLING BY CAR
The first petrol fuelled 'horseless carriages' were made in the 1890s. The first car in Ceredigion (Registration number EJ 1) was bought by Doctor Bonsall of Aberystwyth. This and EJ 2 which belonged to John Ernest Lloyd, the Town Clerk of Lampeter were first recorded in 1903, when the vehicle registration scheme was established. Many blacksmiths became mechanics and began to sell petrol and oil.