Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Radcliffe Road in West Bridgford was the world’s first Tarmac road – the unsung hero who invented it was honoured today

A special ceremony has taken place to celebrate the work of a Nottinghamshire unsung hero who revolutionised road surfaces by inventing Tarmac in the early 20th century.

Innovative Edgar Hooley, a Nottinghamshire County Council surveyor, pioneered the use of asphalt with a patented mixture to transform Radcliffe Road in West Bridgford into the world’s first Tarmac road in 1902.

Now Hooley’s work and achievements have been recognised with the unveiling of a commemorative blue plaque at the world-famous Trent Bridge Cricket Ground.

Councillor Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Nottinghamshire has a rich industrial heritage and a worldwide reputation for its innovation.

“People from our county have been the creative brains behind a number of well-known inventions such as traffic lights, the video cassette recorder and even Ibuprofen – while today we are at the forefront of digital technology by spearheading an exciting programme to create the world’s first 5G Connected Forest in the legendary Sherwood Forest.

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Radcliffe Road 2021

“The story of Edgar Hooley is a fascinating one and is yet another example which highlights why we are rightly proud of the contribution Nottinghamshire and our pioneering inventors have made over the years to help change the world.


“Therefore, I am delighted we have honoured the work of Edgar Hooley by unveiling a lasting tribute to one of our county’s true pioneers.”

Scotsman John McAdam is widely acknowledged as the original creator of modern tarmacadam, but his initial crushed stone road surfaces were not strong enough once motor cars became commonly used across the UK.

Hooley patented the process of using heated tar to bind crushed stones with waste blast furnace slag from ironworking, which could then be compacted and rolled to form a smooth and robust road surface – registering Tarmac as a trademark before selling the business shortly afterwards.

Harvey Cullen, general manager of Tarmac’s contracting business, said: “We’re extremely proud of our history and heritage and are honoured to have been invited to help pay tribute to our founder Edgar Hooley – a true Nottinghamshire pioneer.

“The equipment and techniques being used to surface our roads have moved on considerably over the past century – but we still have Hooley’s innovative spirit embedded at the heart of our business and are constantly identifying ways of delivering the construction and maintenance of roads more safely, sustainably and efficiently.”

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