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Early photographs

Posted: Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:30 pm
by David B
Modellers of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras might find these photos of London interesting. Most are dated between 1880 and 1918.

Early photographs of London.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:25 am
by Guy Rixon
Splendid! Just what I needed. The road textures are an important datum for my planned layout. The early motor taxis surprised me; does any body know more about these?

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:48 pm
by Noel

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:59 pm
by philchudley
Really interesting. Apart from Granite Sets( clear in some photographs) , what material / surface is used for road surfaces?

Its not really clear from the photographs, but as a guess compacted earth or very fine stone?

Phil

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:20 pm
by jon price
From Turnpikes onwards the road surface would be Macadam: a bed of stone similar to railway ballast, with a finer layer on top. The surface became ground down but also eventually rutted and so needed resurfacing from time to time, but it drained well and was the surface of choice for any proper road. If you walk in ther countryside you can still find the remains of macadam surfaces of some tracks There were varous experiments of adding tar fro the 1830s on but they never reached production stasge. Tarmacadam was patented in 1902 and became commonplace after WW1 with the increase in motor transport. A significant proportion of minor roads (not A,B or C) was still macadamed in 1940 (according to the Abwehr pre-invasion intel assessment which I have but can't lay my hands on just now.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:52 pm
by David B
Interesting, Jon. Thank you. What sort of colour would macadamed surfaces be? Would they take on the colour of the local soil or stone from a local quarry?

I have in mind as well that such roads could be very dusty in dry weather but in the wet it would not be deep mud, most loose stuff washing to the sides and running downhill. When you refer to seeing macadam surfaced byways nowadays, would they be what many of us might call 'stony tracks' through farmland?

Going back to the original photographs in London, if you enlarge No.6 of Piccadilly Circus, you can see setts in places which I imagine would be covered in a thin layer of dust and dirt, which would explain the surface in Photo No.1 of Ludgate Circus with all the wheel tracks. Anyone like to suggest colours?

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:11 pm
by jon price
I think the favoured stone was a hard limestone so a light grey, clearly chalk would be no good, and granite wouldn't break down to make the top layer. Yes I suspect your "stony tracks" are macadam, usually the most obvious feature is the ballast sized stuff as the surface has eroded. They were dusty when dry, but the structure actually tended to concrete itself internally downwards when wet, so now sideays run off unless a stream produced a washout

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:18 pm
by Noel
David B wrote:What sort of colour would macadamed surfaces be? Would they take on the colour of the local soil or stone from a local quarry?


In the horse and cart era the most convenient local stone would have been used, because of the cost and difficulties of transport. Some turnpikes were notorious for poor quality surfaces and unsatisfactory repairs. In some cases, at least, this was down to the absence of a satisfactory supply of good stone. If there was a canal close to the turnpike then this could be used to bring better stone from a greater distance.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:40 pm
by Guy Rixon
Noel wrote:In the horse and cart era the most convenient local stone would have been used, because of the cost and difficulties of transport.


Not always. Some cities used granite of exceptional hardness, brought in from some distance. IIRC, some of the Piccadilly setts were from Clee Hill.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:35 am
by jon price
Guy Rixon wrote:
Noel wrote:In the horse and cart era the most convenient local stone would have been used, because of the cost and difficulties of transport.


Not always. Some cities used granite of exceptional hardness, brought in from some distance. IIRC, some of the Piccadilly setts were from Clee Hill.


Agree granite was favoured for setts, although I have seen local sandstoine which isn't very good, but I was referring to macadam

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:11 am
by pete_mcfarlane
jon price wrote: Tarmacadam was patented in 1902 and became commonplace after WW1 with the increase in motor transport. A significant proportion of minor roads (not A,B or C) was still macadamed in 1940 (according to the Abwehr pre-invasion intel assessment which I have but can't lay my hands on just now.

I recently read 'Steam at Thursford', which is essentially a series of interviews with George Cushing, the founder of the Thursford Collection. He made his money as a contractor tarmacing rural roads in the early 1930s as part of a mass upgrade programme to cope with motor vehicles, which ties in with these dates. All of his work was of course done using his steam rollers and lorries.

Interestingly, when the book was written in about 1980 he reckoned that most of the roads in his part of Norfolk still had the same tarmac he put on them in the 1930s. I guess this is still true of most rural roads in the country.

(The book is well worth a read, and Thursford is well worth a visit despite his kids best attempts to turn it in to a weird Christmas show venue for coach parties).

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:08 pm
by Enigma
Believe it or not but many London streets were paved with wood blocks. I have a map, presumably provided by the suppliers, showing which streets were so paved. I can't remember the date of it, I'll have to try and find it, but it's probably early 20th century.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:17 pm
by Noel
Apparently there is still a very small section in existence in Chequer Street, EC1.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:40 pm
by allanferguson
These were often laid outside hospitals and in other places where noise (iron tyred wheels on granite setts) was undesirable. In Dundee, where I worked in the mid 1960's, a large area outside the Sherriff court was laid with them. They were a nightmare in the wet....
Allan F

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:16 pm
by Armchair Modeller
Enigma wrote:Believe it or not but many London streets were paved with wood blocks. I have a map, presumably provided by the suppliers, showing which streets were so paved. I can't remember the date of it, I'll have to try and find it, but it's probably early 20th century.


I remember seeing some exposed during road repairs in a street off Moorgate, mid-70s. I wondered if they were to muffle the noise from the Metropolitan line, which ran below - but was only guessing.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:24 pm
by Flymo748
Noel wrote:Apparently there is still a very small section in existence in Chequer Street, EC1.


Google StreetView only seems to show stone setts, and newly laid ones at that.

However when I next have cause to be in that part of the City, I may find five minutes to stroll around and see what I can find.

Cheers
Flymo

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:59 am
by Le Corbusier
Flymo748 wrote:
Noel wrote:Apparently there is still a very small section in existence in Chequer Street, EC1.


Google StreetView only seems to show stone setts, and newly laid ones at that.

However when I next have cause to be in that part of the City, I may find five minutes to stroll around and see what I can find.

Cheers
Flymo


A couple of years back when the tarmac around my area of Southwark grew a fine selection of 'potholes' the revealed base turned out to be wooden cobbles ... these in the back streets off Marshalsea Road. I did a bit of digging and turned up this blog which might be of interest.

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

Tim

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:07 pm
by James Wells
Enigma wrote:Believe it or not but many London streets were paved with wood blocks. I have a map, presumably provided by the suppliers, showing which streets were so paved. I can't remember the date of it, I'll have to try and find it, but it's probably early 20th century.


Hull had similar sets on its streets - my dad told me after it had turned up while researching his book on Hulls tramways. Certainly around tram track they seemed to be quite easy to remove and replace for track maintenance.

road surfaces

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:12 pm
by jon price
Finally just found ny German WW2 pre-invasion report on the British Isles. It contains interesting data on road surfaces, which although dated 1939 is considered to be seriously out of date. All we can say is that it probably relates to a position during or shortly after WW1. There is a general assessment and then figures by county, although not all counties have the full figures.

With regard to wooden setts there is very little, with most counties reporting none, and the rest less than a mile. The exceptions are Kent with 10 miles, East Sussex with 4.1 miles and the City of London with 1.4 miles. The City is an interesting case as the full figures are: stone paving 1.78, wood 1.43,thin surface of tar 1.43 miles, and asphalt .87 miles.

What is clear is that in the majority of cases the vast majority of surfaces are either "water bound surface" (macadam) or "thin surface of tar or bitumen" (macadam sprayed with tar). These are about 50/50, with tar bound in the slight majority. These are NOT not tarmacadam or asphalt.

Examples are as follows (none of these have stone paving or wooden surfaces listed), ;
Hampshire asphalt 184.69, concrete 5.8, tarmacadam 989.2, waterbound surface 1,743.07, surface of inferior quality 272.19, and thin surface of tar or bitumen 2165.14
Somerset a 31.51, c 1.71, t 1,1060.02, wbs 2,919.46, siq 200.98, tsotob 3,727.27
Yorks E Riding a 11.25, c 6.58, t 496.86, wbs 1,533.68, siq 157.98, tsotob 1,315.16

If I have time, and if anyone is interested I will tabulate all the listed counties

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:49 pm
by Noel
jon price wrote:"thin surface of tar or bitumen" (macadam sprayed with tar).


I agree that macadam is the most likely in country areas, but the tar layer could have been applied over any material which provided an adequate foundation, not just macadam, see
Le Corbusier wrote:A couple of years back when the tarmac around my area of Southwark grew a fine selection of 'potholes' the revealed base turned out to be wooden cobbles


I have seen a thin tar layer worn through on stone setts not that many years ago, also in London back streets, so the underlying material may be more variable in cities, especially bearing in mind that photographs show that some back streets in cities were still laid to stone setts, without any additional surfacing, as late as the 1960s.

Re: Early photographs

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:25 pm
by martinm
especially bearing in mind that photographs show that some back streets in cities were still laid to stone setts, without any additional surfacing, as late as the 1960s.

I think that there are still areas of cobbles/setts in the unloved corners of our towns. I haven't checked that this is still there, but it was certainly a fairly recent photograph.
Image
regards,
martin