A Brief History of Cobbles

When you think of a traditional street in the UK, then chances are that you are going to see cobbles. Cobbles have been used for years up and down the UK and have become an iconic part of British life.

Cobbles not only look great, but they are also hard-wearing too. Making them ideal for high traffic areas that need something underfoot that can withstand whatever is thrown at it.

But where do cobbles come from and how come they were used as a material for roads and driveways around the UK?

The origins

The word “cobblestone”, rather unsurprisingly, comes from the word “cob”, which is an old English word. It is based on the idea of a cob loaf, a small, round, almost lump like item. The cobbles themselves are small, round, almost lump like stones, perfect for constructing roads and first started to make an appearance around the 15th century. This was the time when brand new roads were being constructed around the UK and it was decided that cobblestones worked perfectly for this purpose.

The only issue with this was that the workers building the road had to wade down into cold water, finding and then fetching the sturdiest round pebbles which could then be used on the road. There were no measurements needed in order to craft these roads, everything was done by eye and the stones would be pieced together almost like a jigsaw.

Why were cobbles used in building roads?

So, how did cobbles end up being placed on the roads? For hundreds of years, the old dirt roads had been used, horses and carts would drive up and down them, each and every day. Whilst they were a great route to make deliveries or simply to get around, the roads themselves had started to become old and worn. They were not only in desperate need of repair, but they were also full of potholes too.

In order to be repaired there was going to be a huge bill to cover the costs and with no-one happy to foot the bill, the roads would often become un-passable, which had an impact on trade in that particular area.

It was decided that cobbles would provide the answer that they were looking for. No matter what rode across them, no matter what the weather was doing outside, the cobbles were strong and they were going to be able to withstand the punishment.

In the most part the cobbles were placed in sand, however, if the owner of the land had a little more cash to spare, then they would instead be placed in mortar. After being hand-picked, the stones were simply dropped into the ground, however, there was an art to this. There could be no big haps, there could be no huge variation in the size of the stones and of course, the end result needed to be as smooth as possible.

If you want to embrace a touch of history then why not take a look at whether or not a cobbled driveway in your home is something that is going to work for you? Not only does it look beautiful and traditional, but it will also be durable and resilient too. The perfect combination.

We stock a wide range of cobbles ideal for any project. Call us on 01254 233227 and ask for Richard or Carl who will be more than happy to assist.

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