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Street Paving Gang

Date: Assumed 1978

Street Paving Gang - George Mainwaring – Rochdale Artist

George's Notes

To see a paviour at work was to witness a master craftsman. Many streets can still be seen, particularly in rural and hilly districts, which bear witness to the skill of the road-making gangs who were once a common feature of the daily scene. Iron-shod hooves and iron tyres were the factors which made their craft a necessity; granite setts, laid with skill, have a very long life when laid with skill. Most of our roads and streets are now covered with a carpet of drab asphalt. In times gone by, to see a newly paved street, perfectly cambered, was to witness a real work of art. Skill indeed here and such as may never be seen again.

George Mainwaring

[Granite setts are certainly the best and ever-lasting road setts, however, based on unit and transport cost, when available, suitable local stone would be used. Rochdale was indeed fortunate in having good, hard, fissile stone in the surrounding hills, particularly in the Whitworth valley and from the Irwell valley below Bacup. The moorland quarries above Facit and Shawforth supplied large thin slabs for paving and the distinctive local flagstone walls and from the thicker, blue lonk beds, blocks well suited for road paving, the blocks always laid on end-grain.

One incentive for the 1869 railway from Rochdale to Bacup was being able to give better transport from the stone beds on the moors, generally more than 1,000 ft above sea level. The paving flags and road setts from this one-time thriving industry were transported throughout the country.

John Mainwaring]

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