With the explosion of urban populations, the need to better regulate the flow of traffic and deal with common nuisances such as poor drainage and narrow streets became a pressing concern for many municipal bodies. From the mid-1700s several corporations began progressive ‘improvement’ programmes, facilitated by Acts of Parliament such as that for Cambridge shown here, that provided for a host of measures: the replacement of cobblestones with paving slabs, for example, the removal of dangerous or obstructive shop signs, the demolition of winding medieval streets and replacement with broad avenues, and the implementation of better drainage. Street lighting in particular was revolutionized with the erection of oil lamps at principal sites in towns, making many urban centres much safer from the dangers of night-time accidents and crime.