By the end of the 18th century, the roads in England where in a very bad state , pot holes and thick mud abounded.
Then with the introduction of new road construction methods by Telford and Macadam, it became no longer necessary to dodge pot holes and as consequence roads could become narrower. This over hall of the national road structure started in the early 19th century and gradually spread though the whole country. The excess space between the new road and the boundary, usually a hedge, that was no longer needed for pot hole dodging manoeuvres, became disused and colonised by plants, thus creating the verges that we know today.
In current times the verges have become an important part of the road network, ie;
- providing added visability to drivers at bends and junctions,
- as places to park in an emergency,
- as areas where road repair equipment and materials can be stored temporally,
- as places for drains and soak aways to remove surface water,
- as a means of providing structural support to the road surface,
- providing a visual link between the road and its surroundings,
- separation of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders from the carriageways where larger vehicles travel,
- acting as significant reservoirs of plants and animals – particularly in areas where hedges have been removed,
- as wildlife corridors and a means of plants spreading from one area to another.
The portion of the verge nearest the road edge is subject to constant disturbance ie;
Throwing up of mud and water in wet weather,
Pollution from salting and exhaust fumes
Further from the road the conditions are more stable and have a rich community of annual and perennial plants.