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The History of Tarmac

In 1999, one of the largest and longest takeover deals took place in industry. Anglo American Mining eventually bought out Tarmac for a cost around $1.7bn. Just before this huge deal took place Tarmac created a new business by using its building sector part and called it Carillion.

Carillion became the largest construction support service industrials in the United Kingdom almost overnight. To see how it all began, one would have to turn the clock back to over a century ago, with the legendary tale of Tarmac’s discovery.

Edgar Purnell Hooley

Edgar Hooley was a county council surveyor in the Nottinghamshire region. In 1901, Hooley was walking near an iron and steel works factory in Derbyshire. He observed a strange substance on a track which led towards to ironworks.

Edgar Hooley

Edgar Hooley

He asked locals what had happened. They informed him a delivery cart, carrying barrels of tar, had shed its load. The barrels had burst open over the track path and locals scurried around to help clean up the mess. Waste slag was used – as a large heap was readily available by the ironworks – to help clean the tar. But it ended up setting and the industrial track had unintentionally created a nice, smooth and clean road.

It was hardy and enduring and made future dray deliveries easier for the carts to traverse. Edgar Hooley noticed this and decided he would patent the idea of mixing waste slag with tar which would be used for tarmac driveways and smooth roads that would become the future of roads.

Hooley filed a patent in Great Britain for Tarmac and within a year Tarmacadam was formed. The syndicate was formed with a Wolverhampton MP running the business and eventually taking on a more business-minded role in Tarmac.

At the time, the world was on the verge of mass producing cars. The crushed stone or shingle tracks that had been used for horse and wagon transport was never going to be good enough for the incoming motor vehicle.

Hooley commissioned a road in Nottingham to be the world’s first tarmac route. The five mile long road still exists today and saw the birth of top-quality road surfaces across the world. Tarmac quickly became a very big company and it even managed to float on the stock market.

Tarmac have won contracts with the Ministry of Defence during the Second World War, won a contract to build the M6 motorway and numerous overseas commissions.


Tarmacadam Driveways Stoke
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