Road and platform surfaces

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nberrington
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Road and platform surfaces

Postby nberrington » Mon Sep 30, 2019 6:07 pm

Good day all. This may seem like a dumb question to most of you. I gather tarmac/ asphalt was an early twentieth century invention. As far as I can tell the roads around Swanage were tarred in the twenties. (?)

So the obvious question is - what were the road surfaces in the twenties? What were station platform surfaces?

Old pictures of swanage show a smooth surface on the platform - clearly not paving or cobbles.

Can anyone weigh in on this?

Armchair Modeller
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Armchair Modeller » Mon Sep 30, 2019 6:35 pm

Asphalt pavements were first laid in the 1840s in the UK, as briefly described here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asphalt#United_Kingdom

Tarmacadam was an early C20 invention, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarmacadam

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Noel
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Noel » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:14 pm

Besides the large slab or chequer brick edging for the full length of the platform, some minor BR WR stations had smaller slabs in front of the station building, often more or less coterminous with the canopy. In later days the rest of the surface was often tarmac, but not always. The rest had screened and compacted small chippings, with a maximum size of 3/4 to 1/2 inch, I would guess, until closure. I don't know about LSWR practice. but would think it was probably similar, as such material would have been commonly available.

Before tarmac, roads would have had a top layer several inches thick of compacted chippings of a similar size https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macadam; or large slabs; or setts or cobbles; or longitudinal slabs set at a width to take the cart wheels, with cobbles or setts between. Initially at least, tarmac was simply added to the chippings to act as a binder and provide a smoother surface. Again, I don't know the practice in Swanage; local roads were the responsibility of local councils, main roads the responsibility of County Councils, even in the towns, so more than one type of surface could have been in use at the same time over a prolonged period.
Regards
Noel

Terry Bendall
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Terry Bendall » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:31 pm

I can recall reading a description of bomb damage in London during World War Two of "wooden blocks of the road surface burning with a merry glow" but probably that was a feature of large towns and cities. Perhaps there was a tarmac covering to the blocks?

Terry Bendall

allanferguson
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby allanferguson » Mon Sep 30, 2019 11:24 pm

Hardwood "cobblestones" were, I think, used in towns and cities which were otherwise surfaced with granite setts. The purpose was to make the traffic, which was mostly iron clad wheels or iron shod horses, significantly quieter in sensitive areas, such as beside hospitals. I remember them in front of the Sheriff Court in Dundee. They had been covered with a layer of asphalt which by the 1960's had largely worn off. The exposed wooden surfaces were a death trap in wet weather! I wonder what became of these bits of wood: I think they were lifted In the 1970's.

Allan F

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Le Corbusier » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:13 am

We have hardwood sets beneath much of the tarmac around where I live in Southwark (Mint Street/Southwark Bridge Road area). They are revealed by pot holes as and when the frost splits the tarmac. Not particularly a residential area historically or one that would demand quiet. Perhaps in some instances they were the poor mans granite?
Tim Lee

dclift
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby dclift » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:25 am

Hardwood blocks covered with asphalt were used in Melbourne (Australia) from the late 19th century. I recall a burst watermain at a major intersection causing the road to float 40 years or more ago.
David Clift.

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Noel
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Noel » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:10 am

Le Corbusier wrote:We have hardwood sets beneath much of the tarmac around where I live in Southwark (Mint Street/Southwark Bridge Road area). They are revealed by pot holes as and when the frost splits the tarmac. Not particularly a residential area historically or one that would demand quiet. Perhaps in some instances they were the poor mans granite?


The western end of Mint Street once faced the rear of the Evelina Children's Hospital across a "T" junction, the front of the hospital being on Southwark Bridge Road, with a large workhouse in the "V" of that road and Marshalsea Road. Both were there circa 1940 http://www.maps-of-london.com/map-lambeth.htm and http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/mint-street/4587725951; the hospital probably accounts for the wood block surface [the covering tarmac would have been a later addition]. It still exists, by the way, although not on the same site https://www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/about-us/about-us.aspx.
Regards
Noel

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Le Corbusier » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:21 am

True Noel ... but not buying it as an explainer just yet.

The wooden cobbles are much more widely distributed than simply Mint street and the original Evalina Hospital fronted on to Southwark Bridge Road and was not actually on Mint Street ..... would they have been so considerate towards the workhouse which is on Mint Street... probably not - the wooden cobbles I have seen were on the junction of Caleb Street and Little Lant Street. There are also to my knowledge wooden sets on Little Lant Street, Lant Street itself and Toulmin Street. This would suggest the whole area has extensive wooden sets ...and a large portion of the area appears to have been mixed occupation/use - poorish residential incl workhouse/light industrial/warehousing.

My understanding was that there were many reasons that wooden setts were experimented with over time, and the noise aspect was only one. A major driver was cost, with poorer wood being used in poorer areas, and that in well to do areas granite was still favoured because of its hard wearing.

Currently I am still minded to go with 'poor mans cobbles' but am open to being convinced otherwise ;)

....here is a link to a blog on the subject I came across a while back whilst researching ... of course it may be old news and I am aware I might be in the realms of grandmothers and eggs here as I am no expert :?

https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2015/0 ... with-wood/

lant st.jpg
Last edited by Le Corbusier on Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Tim Lee

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steve howe
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby steve howe » Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:27 pm

Getting back to Neil's original query, pre-tarmac roads, especially in rural areas were just crushed stone and grit which (in Cornwall at least) the local clay worked its way through in wet weather making them muddy in winter and dusty in summer. I replicate tarmac surfaces on platforms etc. by painting on a fairly thick layer of dark grey paint, usually dark grey undercoat (oil based) followed by a generous layer of talc, or better still, French Chalk if you can get it, tamped down lightly and left for 24 hours, then vacuumed off. It leaves a very convincing 'tired' looking surface. I recently tried it on a rural lane using Humbrol matt dark earth and the same technique, and it worked well.

Steve

DougN
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby DougN » Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:40 am

David Clift is right. The blocks were used on Tram routes and are still being removed depending on the track renewal program. I can't think off the top of my head if there is any where that still has them under the road surface. They were about 12inches long about 3 inches wide and about 3inches deep. A project I was involved with had to remove them from the St Georges Rd Tram works (truck shop) and stock pile them in another building as they were heritage listed (I bet the pile is slowly dropping as people nick them and put them in wood burners!). The building had a new concrete slab installed for the new Siemens trams (well back in 2004 they were new). I guess originally the blocks would have protected the wheels and other engineering goings on in the building. They had been laid in bitumen on top of a concrete slab, some could be lifted out, others well, the bobcat got them out!

In, about winter 1990 or 1991, Waverley road in East Malvern had its track renewed from Dandenong Rd to Darling Road I recall. The track was tram rail on sleepers with the blocks laid between then the hot mix bitumen/tarmac was laid over the top. It was a nightmare for our retail shop as there was no parking on Waverley Rd or trams so our custom fell.
Doug
Still not doing enough modelling

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Noel
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Noel » Wed Oct 02, 2019 10:54 am

Wood suitable for road surfaces is rather more available in Australia than the UK, so Australian practice is not necessarily a reliable guide to UK practice, where much wood was being imported by Victorian times. I know little about UK street tramways, but so far as I know the usual infill was stone setts https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/metrolink-workers-uncover-tram-route-697170 http://www.semple.biz/glasgow/trampics4.shtml. Other materials may have been used to match the surrounding road surface where that was different, I don't know. However, even in the extensive London network, trams only appeared on main roads, so would not account for wood blocks in side streets. In the area in question maps suggest trams came from a terminus at the north end of Southwark bridge down Southwark Bridge Road, and then turned into Marshalsea Road, heading for Bricklayers' Arms.
Regards
Noel

Bill Newstead
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Bill Newstead » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:21 am

Wood blocks were used between the tram rails in Holland and were dug up to be burnt as fuel during the Dutch famine of 1945. See the section headed 'Food' at https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2people ... 6074.shtml.

Regards

Bill

Lindsay G
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Lindsay G » Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:56 pm

I’d never heard of wooden cobbles (or setts) until this thread (not that it was the subject of the thread), then rather spookily come across some yesterday in Cape Town in a fort of Dutch origin (not that I know if they’re there since build).

Will post an image when home.

Lindsay

nberrington
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby nberrington » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:55 pm

I’m safe and sound back home on the Prairies, and thankful for the wide roads and open spaces.

I had a wonderful time in the UK, and thank you all for your wonderful hospitality! I imagine if you lot weren’t such courteous drivers, those narrow little roads would be death traps!

I did find a book in the National Trust store in Corfe Castle: “Lost Dorset - The Villages and Countryside” by David Burnett. Turns out to be fine airplane reading. On page 136 the author goes in to some detail about the development of roads!

Initially roads and lanes were spread flints and chalk. Later on the McAdam surface was used - small stones on a subsoil. Apparently this was quite unsuited to air filled tires, and the wholesale tarring of roads in villages and towns in Dorset started in the 1920’s.

The book itself is quite marvellous and worth the price of admission. It is filled with period postcards of rural Dorset.

Returning to my question I would guess the Northbrook Road bridge was a McAdam surface until the 1920’s - who knows the urgency with which Swanage embraced vehicular traffic.

There were apparently 1200 vehicles listed in Dorset by 1914, so I imagine there would have been considerable pressure to surface the roads.

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Hardwicke
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Hardwicke » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:20 pm

Lindsay G wrote:I’d never heard of wooden cobbles (or setts) until this thread (not that it was the subject of the thread), then rather spookily come across some yesterday in Cape Town in a fort of Dutch origin (not that I know if they’re there since build).

Will post an image when home.

Lindsay

I'm sure Hull Docks has wooden blocks. End grain uppermost, I guess so that when it's wet, it swells and doesn't come loose. Also better grip.
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".

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Hardwicke
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby Hardwicke » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:43 pm

nberrington wrote:Good day all. This may seem like a dumb question to most of you. I gather tarmac/ asphalt was an early twentieth century invention. As far as I can tell the roads around Swanage were tarred in the twenties. (?)

So the obvious question is - what were the road surfaces in the twenties? What were station platform surfaces?

Old pictures of swanage show a smooth surface on the platform - clearly not paving or cobbles.

Can anyone weigh in on this?

As I'm building/built Swanage, the roads did seem tarred in the 20s. The platform seemed to be tarmac too but possibly closely packed gravel.
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".

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steve howe
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Re: Road and platform surfaces

Postby steve howe » Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:04 am

Lindsay[/quote]
I'm sure Hull Docks has wooden blocks. End grain uppermost, I guess so that when it's wet, it swells and doesn't come loose. Also better grip.[/quote]

I certainly remember wooden block paving, end grain uppermost, outside the Humber Dock Tavern and around what is now the Marina from being a student in Hull. I was told by locals it was to reduce noise from iron tyred vehicles.

Steve


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