London Labour and the London Poor, volume 2

Mayhew, Henry


There are now modes of pavement in the streets of the metropolis.

. (commonly composed of Aberdeen granite).

. , or rather


The stone pavement has generally, in the several towns of England, been composed of whatever material the quarries or rocks of the neighbourhood supplied, limestone being often thus used. In some places, where there were no quarries available, the stones of a river or rivuletside were used, but these were rounded and slippery, and often formed but a rugged pathway. For London pavement, the neighbourhood not being rich in stone quarries, granite has usually been brought by water from Scotland, and a small quantity from Guernsey for the pavement of the streets. The stone pavement is made by the placing of the granite stones, hewn and shaped ready for the purpose, side by side, with a foundation of concrete. The concrete now used for the London street-pavement is Thames ballast, composed of shingles, or small stones, and mixed with lime, &c.

Macadamization was not introduced into the of London until about years ago. Before that, it had been carried to what was accounted a great degree of perfection on many of the principal mail and coach roads. Some miles on the Great , or that between London and Carlisle, were often pointed out as an admirable specimen of road-making on Mac Adam's principles. This road was well known in the old coaching days as Leming-lane, running from Boroughbridge to Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire.

The thoroughfare in London which was macadamized, a word adapted from the name of Sir W. Mac Adam, the originator or great improver of the system, was St. James's-square; after that, some of the smaller streets in the aristocratic parishes of St. James and St. George were thus paved, and then, but not without great opposition, . The opposition to the macadamizing of the latter thoroughfare assumed many forms. Independently of the conflicting statements as to extravagance and economy, it was urged by the opponents, that the dust and dirt of the new style of paving would cause the street to be deserted by the aristocracy—that the noiselessness of the traffic would cause the deaths of the deaf and infirm— that the aristocracy promoted this new-fangled street-making, that they might the better "sleep o' nights," regardless of all else. writer especially regretted that the Duke of Queensberry, popularly known as "Old Q.," who resided at the western end of , had not lived to enjoy, undisturbed by vulgar noises, his bed of down, until it was his hour to rise and take his bath of perfumed milk! In short, there was all the fuss and absurdity which so often characterise local contests.

The macadamized street is made by a layer of stones, broken small and regular in size, and spread evenly over the road, so that the pressure and friction of the traffic will knead, grind, crush, and knit them into compact surface. Until road-making became better understood, or until the early part of the present century, the roads even in the suburbs immediately connected with London, such as , Kingsland, Stoke , and Hackney, were "repaired when they wanted it." If there were a "rut," or a hole, it was filled up or covered over with stones, and as the drivers usually avoided such parts, for the sake of their horses' feet, another rut was speedily formed alongside of the original . Under the old system, roadmend- ing was patch-work; defects were sought to be remedied, but there was little or no knowledge of constructing or of reconstructing the surface as a whole.

The wood pavement came last, and was not established, even partially, until or years ago. of the earliest places so paved was the , in order that the noise of the streettraffic might be deadened in the Criminal Courts. The same plan was adopted alongside some of the churches, and other public buildings, where external quietude, or, at any rate, diminished noise, was desired. At the , there were great complaints made, and frequent expostulations addressed to the editors of the newspapers, as to the slipperiness of the wooden ways. The wood pavement is formed of blocks of wood, generally deal, fitted to another by grooves, by joints, or by shape, for close adjustment. They are placed on the road over a body of concrete, in the same way as granite.

In constructing roads, or rather streets, through towns or cities, where the amount of traffic is considerable, it will be found desirable," says Mr. Law, in his 'Treatise on the Constructing and Repairing of Roads,' "to pave their surface. The advantages belonging to pavements in such situations over macadamized roads are considerable; where the latter are exposed to an incessant and heavy traffic, their surface becomes rapidly worn, rendering constant repairs requisite, which are not only attended with very heavy expense, but also render the road very unpleasant for being travelled upon while being done; they also require much more attention in the way of scraping or sweeping, and in raking in ruts. And some difficulty would be experienced in towns to find places in which the materials, which would be constantly wanted for repairing the road, could be deposited. In dry weather the macadamized road would always be dusty, and in wet weather it would be covered with mud. The only advantage which such a road really possesses over a pavement is the less noise produced by carriages in passing over it; but this advantage is very small when the pavement is properly laid.

Concerning wood pavements the same gentleman says, "Of late years wood has been introduced as a material for paving streets, and has been rather extensively employed both in Russia and America. It has been tried in various parts of London, and generally with small success, the cause of its failure being identical with the cause of the enormous sums being spent annually in the repairs of the streets generally, namely, the want of a proper foundation; a want which was sooner felt with wood than with granite, in consequence of the less weight and inertia of the wood. The comfort resulting from the use of wooden pavement, both to those who travelled, and those who lived in the streets, from the diminished jolting and noise, was so great, that it is just matter of surprise that so little care was taken in forming that which a very little consideration would have shown to be indispensable to its success, namely, a good foundation. Slipperiness of its surface, in particular states of the weather, was also found to be a disad vantage belonging to wooden pavement; but means might be devised which would render its surface at all times safe, and afford a secure footing for horses. As regards durability, it has scarcely been used for a sufficient period to allow a comparison being made with other materials, but from the result of some observations communicated by Mr. Hope to the Scottish Society of Arts, it appears that wooden blocks when placed with the end of the grain exposed, wear At sight, this result might appear questionable, but it is a well-ascertained fact that, where wood and iron move in contact in machinery, the iron generally wears more rapidly than the wood, the reason appearing to be, that the surface of the wood soon becomes covered with particles of dust and grit, which become partially embedded in it, and, while they serve to protect the wood, convert its surface into a species of file, which rapidly wears away whatever it rubs against."

Such then are the different modes of constructing the London roads or streets. I shall now endeavour to show the relative length, and relative cost of the streets thus severally prepared for the commercial, professional, and pleasurable transit of the metropolis.

The comparative extent of the macadamized, of the stone, and of the wood pavement of the streets of the metropolis has not as yet been ascertained, for no general account has appeared condensing the reports, returns, accounts, &c., of the several specific bodies of management into grand total.

It is, however, possible to arrive at an approximation as to the comparative extent I have spoken of; and in this attempt at approximation, in the absence of all means of a definite statistical computation, I have had the assistance of an experienced and practical surveyor, familiar with the subject.

Macadamization prevails beyond the following boundaries:—

North of the New-road and of its extension, as the City-road, and westward of the New-road's junction with Lisson-grove.

Westward of and of the West-end parks.

Eastward of (Spitalfields) and of the .

Southward (on the Surrey side) from the Newcut and , , and both in the eastern and western direction of , , and the other southern parishes.

Stone pavement, on the other hand, prevails in the district which may be said to be within this boundary, bearing down upon the Thames in all directions.

It is, doubtlessly, the fact that in both the districts thus indicated exceptions to the general rule may prevail—that in , for instance, there may be some miles of macadamized way, and in the other some miles of granite pavements; but such exceptions, I am told by a Commissioner of Paving, may fairly be dismissed as balancing each other.

The wooden pavement, I am informed on the same authority, does not now comprise miles of the London thoroughfares; little notice, therefore, need be taken of it.

The miles of streets in the City in which stone only affords the street medium of locomotion are . The stone pavement in the localities outside of this area are times, or approaching to times, the extent of that in the City. I have no actual admeasurement to demonstrate this point, for none exists, and no private individual can offer to measure hundreds of miles of streets in order to ascertain the composition of their surface. But the calculation has been made for me by a gentleman thoroughly conversant with the subject, and well acquainted with the general relative proportion of the defined districts, parishes, and boroughs of the metropolis.

We have thus the following result, as regards the inner police district, or Metropolis Proper:—

 Granite paved streets . . . . . . 400 
 Macadamized ditto (or roads) . . . 1350 
 Wood ditto . . . . . . . . . 5 
 Total . . . 1755 

This may appear a disproportionate estimate, but when it is remembered that the inner police district of the metropolis extends as far as Hampstead, Tooting, Brentford, and Greenwich, it will be readily perceived that the relative proportions of the macadamized and paved roads are much about the same as is here stated.

As to the cost of these several roads, I will, before entering upon that part of the subject, state the prices of the different materials used in their manufacture.

Aberdeen granite is now per ton, delivered, and prepared for paving, or, as it is often called, "pitching." A ton of " inch" granite, that is, granite sunk inches in the ground, will cover from and -quarters to square yards, superficial measure, or


feet per yard. The cost, labour included, is, therefore, from to the square yard. This appears very costly; but in some of the more quiet streets, such as those in the immediate neighbourhood of Golden and Fitzroy-squares, a good granite pavement will endure for years, requiring little repair. In other streets, such as , for instance, it lasts from to years, without repavement being necessary, supposing the best construction has been originally adopted.

For macadamized streets, where there is a traffic like that of Tottenham Court-road, layers of small broken granite a year are necessary; the cost of this repavement being about a yard superficial measure. The repairs and relayings on macadamized roads of regular traffic range from to yearly, the square yard.

The wood pavement, which endures, with a trifling outlay for repairs, for about years, costs, on an average, the square yard.

The concrete used as a foundation in this street-construction costs a cube yard, or feet, by which admeasurement it is always calculated. A cube yard of Thames ballast weighs about ton.

The average cost of street-building, new, taking an average breadth, or about yards, from footpath to footpath, is then—

   Per Mile. 
   £. s. d. 
 Granite built . . . . . . . 96 0 0 
 Macadamized . . . . . . . 44 0 0 
 Wood . . . . . . . . . 88 0 0 

Or, as a total,

 400 miles of granite paved streets at £ 96 per mile . . . . 38,400 0 0 
 1350 macadamized ditto, at £ 44 per mile . . . . . 59,400 0 0 
 5 wood ditto, at £ 88 per mile . 440 0 0 
   ------ ------ 
   98,240 0 0 

This, then (about ), is the of the roads of the metropolis.

The cost of repairs, &c., annually, is shown by the amount of the paving rate, which may be taken as an average.

   £ s. d. 
 400 miles of granite, at 20s. per mile . . . . . . . . 400 0 0 
 1350 macadamized ditto, at £ 13 4s. per mile . . . 17,820 0 0 
 5 woodThis relates merely to the repairs to the wooden pavement, but if a renewal of the blocks be necessary, then the cost approaches that of a new road; and a renewal is considered necessary about once in three years. ditto, at 20s. per mile 5 0 0 
   ------ ------ 
 Total . . . 18,225 0 0 

According to a "General Survey of the Metropolitan Highways," by Mr. Thomas Hughes, the principal roads leading out of London are:—

. , from through Kingsland.

. , from Whitechapel, through Bow and .

. , along the past .

. , from the Elephant and Castle, across Blackheath.

. through Croydon, () through Sutton.

. , along the through Battersea and Wandsworth.

. , from through Brentford.

. , along the , and through Harrow-on-the- Hill.

. , along the Edgeware Road through Elstree.

. , from Bayswater through Ealing.

 11. The Great Holyhead Road. From Islington, by and through Barnet. 
 12. The Great North Road. 

As to the amount of resistance to traction offered by different kinds of pavement, or the same pavement under different circumstances, the following are the general results of the experiments made by M. Morin, at the expense of the French Government:—

. The traction is directly proportional to the load, and inversely proportional to the diameter of the wheel.

. Upon a paved, or hard macadamized road, the resistance is independent of the width of the tire, when it exceeds from to inches.

. At a walking pace the traction is the same, under the same circumstances, for carriages with springs and without them.

. Upon hard macadamized, and upon paved roads, the traction increases with the velocity: the increments of traction being directly proportional to the increments of velocity above the velocity . feet per , or about miles per hour. The equal increment of traction thus due to each equal increment of velocity is less as the road is more smooth, and the carriage less rigid or better hung.

. Upon soft roads of earth, or sand, or turf, or roads fresh and thickly gravelled, the traction is independent of the velocity.

. Upon a well-made and compact pavement of hewn stones, the traction at a walking pace is not more than -fourths of that upon the best macadamized roads under similar circumstances; at a trotting pace it is equal to it.

. The destruction of the road is in all cases greater, as the diameters of the wheels are less, and it is greater in carriages without than with springs.

In Sir H. Parnell's book on roads, p. , we are told that Sir John Macneill, by means of an instrument invented by himself for measuring the tractive force required on different kinds of road, obtained the following general results as to the power requisite to move a ton weight under ordinary circumstances, at a very low velocity.


 Description of Road. Force, in pounds, required to move a ton. 
 On a well-made pavement . . . 33 
 On a road made with six inches of broken stone of great hardness, laid either on a foundation of large stones, set in the form of a pavement, or upon a bottoming of concrete . . . . . . . . . 46 
 On an old flint road, or a road made with a thick coating of broken stone, laid on earth . . . . . 65 
 On a road made with a thick coating of gravel, laid on earth . . . 147 

In the same work the relative degrees of resistance to traction on the several kinds of roads are thus expressed:—

 On a timber surface . . . . . . . 2 
 On a paved road . . . . . . . . 2 
 On a well-made broken stone road, in a dry clean state . . . . . . . 5 
 On a well-made broken stone road, covered with dust . . . . . . 8 
 On a well-made broken stone road, wet and muddy . . . . . . . . . 10 
 On a gravel or flint road, in a dry clean state . . . . . . . . . 13 
 On a gravel or flint road, in a wet muddy state . . . . . . . . 32 

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 Title Page
Of the Street-Sellers of Second-Hand Articles
Of the Street-Sellers of Live Animals
Of the Street-Sellers of Mineral Productions and Natural Curiosities
Of the Street-Buyers
Of the Street-Jews
Of the Street-Finders or Collectors
Of the Streets of London
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the London Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Sweepers of Old, and the Climbing Boys
Of the Chimney-Sweepers of the Present Day
Of the General Characteristics of the Working Chimney-Sweepers
Sweeping of the Chimneys of Steam-Vessels
Of the 'Ramoneur' Company
Of the Brisk and Slack Seasons, and the Casual Trade among the Chimney- Sweepers
Of the 'Leeks' Among the Chimney-Sweepers
Of the Inferior Chimney-Sweepers -- the 'Knullers' and 'Queriers'
Of the Fires of London
Of the Sewermen and Nightmen of London
Of the Wet House-Refuse of London
Of the Means of Removing the Wet House-Refuse
Of the Quantity of Metropolitan Sewage
Of Ancient Sewers
Of the Kinds and Characteristics of Sewers
Of the Subterranean Character of the Sewers
Of the House-Drainage of the Metropolis as Connected With the Sewers
Of the London Street-Drains
Of the Length of the London Sewers and Drains
Of the Cost of Constructing the Sewers and Drains of the Metropolis
Of the Uses of Sewers as a Means of Subsoil Drainage
Of the City Sewerage
Of the Outlets, Ramifications, Etc., of the Sewers
Of the Qualities, Etc., of the Sewage
Of the New Plan of Sewerage
Of the Management of the Sewers and the Late Commissions
Of the Powers and Authority of the Present Commissions of Sewers
Of the Sewers Rate
Of the Cleansing of the Sewers -- Ventilation
Of 'Flushing' and 'Plonging,' and Other Modes of Washing the Sewers
Of the Working Flushermen
Of the Rats in the Sewers
Of the Cesspoolage and Nightmen of the Metropolis
Of the Cesspool System of London
Of the Cesspool and Sewer System of Paris
Of the Emptying of the London Cesspools by Pump and Hose
Statement of a Cesspool-Sewerman
Of the Present Disposal of the Night-Soil
Of the Working Nightmen and the Mode of Work