Time for another page about paving. Isn’t this exciting? We’re off down the back alleys behind Victorian terraced housing. Don’t all rush at once — and don’t trip over the bin bags.
We use the phrase ‘this is right up your alley’ to mean something you would particularly like, or know something about. I don’t know if the paving down alleys is up many people’s alley, but I’m pressing on regardless, leaving the tarmac pavements and heading off behind the houses.
I’d been trying to find out the name of this back lane paving noticed before, and a recent conversation on Twitter prompted more research. It’s hard to Google something you don’t know the name of, and I did end up going ‘all round the houses’, just like these back alleys pictured do.
Apparently these paving units are called ’slag paviours’. In a City of York Council document they’re also called ‘Rosemary setts’. It’s not often Google fails to pick up any references at all to something, but the only reference to Rosemary setts I could find, beyond the CoYC document, was to a woman of that name.
Both sound rather like characters from a novel, Rosemary Setts being the well-to-do one and Slag Paviours an older lady with a rather shady past perhaps.
I’m wondering what other people call these, if they call them anything at all. Perhaps we never notice them. Perhaps only people wandering around with cameras notice them. The patterns they make are rather pleasing.
These photos are of a back lane in the Bootham area of York. Just a standard northern back alley. I say northern but I’ve never examined the surfacing of back alleys in the south. Paving is a relatively recent interest.
Paying attention to paving leads to many other questions, like where were these made, what are they made of. If anyone knows where the slag paviour factory was in bygone times please share via the comments below.
They’re just a detail overlooked, making up our streetscapes, or rather, the back alleys of where we live. But they’re not manufactured anymore, and when work takes place in back alleys the replacement surface, as illustrated here, is tarmac. Which I can’t see anyone wanting to take photographs of, ever.
In other alleys and back lanes adjoining are these less fancy paving units, ordinary plain setts, presumably also original and dating from the 19th century. Also visually pleasing — well, more so than tarmac. Enjoy them while they last.
And if you think no one cares much about something as mundane as paving, actually many people do care, as a recent story in the Press reminded me. Which is why there might even be a ‘Paving, part 3′ …
Bet you can’t wait.
Elsewhere on the web
Meanwhile, some background reading, the City of York Council Back Lane Resurfacing Policy (PDF)
Update … a few hours later
Well, whaddya know. The questions I’ve been asking above are partly answered in a recently published CoYC document which I’ve just got around to reading, available via the Download now option on this link (PDF), which features those textured paviours on its front page. They’re referred to here as ’stable paviours’, apparently ‘almost unique to York’ and they were ‘manufactured in York from Colliery waste – presumably brought to the city as railway ballast.’
But where? And by whom? …
The document is part of a consultation I was also going to mention when I got around to understanding what it was about. More later …