Saturday, 16 March 2013

Correspondence regarding the cobbles

With the Town Council:

Sent: 11 March 2013 11:06
To: Ulverston Town Council
Subject: Work on the cobbles

Given the previous contractor's record, I cannot be absolutely sure that the work won't be complete before May 5th  but to me it is very doubtful and secondarily I can see no need to take this risk : start earlier.

What could help them would be:

1. Using two teams at different locations and working at week ends
2. Continuing to space out the setts at the level last used where  only 50% of the surface was granite setts and the rest concrete.

Main points

1. The council's choice of dates.

As it is important to the shop keepers to be finished before the date of May 5th - the bank holiday ( or even slightly earlier for Flag Fortnight) ,  I don't understand why they can't start on at least 1st April . This is born out by the statement in the press that the CCC Highways state the work will take 5 weeks not the three provided by the 15thApril start.

What needs to be in place is a severe penalty clause whereby the shopkeepers are compensated if the work runs past May 5th

2. The quality of work and sett spacing.

As Concrete has been used from the beginning of the work down Market Street the spacing is probably aesthetic. I believe that Ultracrete is being used. This is the material recommended to me by Mr Rhodes of the Preston Borough Highways Dept. It has got to be true that the granite of the setts will outlast the concrete which will disintegrate in time with repeated water and freezing conditions. This will then lead to the setts becoming loose, first one , then a wide area.

A much longer lasting surface would be achieved (I believe) if the setts are first laid and jammed hard against each other - a technique used in europe using arcs of stone setts. Once the setts are laid , then and only then is cement used to make the surface waterproof by filling in the cracks that remain. This way if the cement filling deteriorates then the setts remain jammed in place and all that is needed is fresh filling in one place. I have heard that in Rome where they have over 2,000 years of experience they use this jamming in technique to lay the setts for a whole square in a matter of a couple of days.


We have to live with what we have got and live with the consequences. The main thing now is to get a reasonable job done before May 5th and in practice before Flag Fortnight starts. Work therefore needs to start as soon after Easter allowing plenty of time for the project to run overtime.

I can back up most of my statements with evidence if this is helpful.

The videos on the cobbles are grouped at

Hope you find the above helpful

Response from Town Council :

Thanks Geoff, I will forward this to Tony Beatty who is the engineer in charge of the project at the county council

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