A brief post this week – short of time and researching some longer posts for the next few weeks.
A fact of London life is not just the continual building work that appears to be taking place across the whole of London, but also the never-ending road works. These have ranged from major works over the past year such as at the Elephant and Castle, and the Cycle Superhighway along the Embankment, through to a couple of hours needed to fill a hole in the road.
Road works also have a supporting cast of high-vis jackets, traffic cones, temporary traffic lights and lots of machinery with no doubt lots of planning and health and safety assessments.
My father worked for St. Pancras Borough Council Electricity and Public Lighting Department and then for the London Electricity Board, which is one of the reasons that he knew London so well, having worked across so many streets planning the installation of streetlights, cabling and electricity distribution equipment.
He took a number of photos of work taking place and I have a sample for today’s post. They show a very different working environment to that you would find today.
Firstly, two photos showing the same street scene which must have been taken only a few minutes apart. No idea where this is, there looks to be a street name on the building to the left however despite enlarging and trying different scan methods, the grain of the film does not allow the name to be read.
Not a high visibility jacket or traffic cone in sight, although if you enlarge the photo, at the end of the trench there is a sign that states Caution Roadworks.
Sadly, I always look down a trench or hole in the road to see if there is anything interesting below the surface. The following photo was in the same sequence as the two above. An arch of some form has been cut through, but is clearly seen in the side of the trench.
The above photos are from the late 1940s, the photos below are from the early 1950s and show the method of sealing a joint between multiple cables.
Again, I do not know the location and there is nothing I recognise in the background.
Above and below; heating up a joint with a paraffin blow torch.
Lastly, pouting molten metal over the joint to form a seal, probably some alloy of lead was used. Very basic protection – you would not want to get that on your skin.
The final set is back to the late 1940s and are a couple of photos I published back in July 2014 and show road works at the top of Tottenham Court Road at the junction with Euston Road and Hampstead Road. The area looks very different now – you can read the post here.
Again, very basic compared to today. A shovel, wheel barrow and a pole across the road.
Road works have always been a feature of London roads and I suspect will always be so. Next time your journey is delayed by some, rather than complain, have a look down, they are often an interesting, but ignored, feature of everyday street life.