Tarmac laying – or tarmacking – is the process of laying a mixture of tar and aggregate onto a road surface and then compacting it with a roller. It is often thought to be a process developed by John Louden Macadam, a Scottish engineer and road builder born in 1756; however the process refers mainly to a way of ADDING tar to a Macadam surface, which itself was suitable for horses and not mechanised vehicles.
The actual process of tarmacking was patented in 1901 by Edgar Purnell Hooley, a Swansea-born civil engineer who also founded the world-famous company that bears the name of the process, now Tarmac Plc. It is the process rather than the material that distinguishes Hooley’s method: coal tar or bitumen had been laid over Macadam roads since at least 1834, when John Henry Cassell patented ‘pitch macadam’.
In actual fact, most modern road surfacing, or metalling, is carried out using an oil-based asphalt compound rather than the coal tar developed by Hooley. This asphalt is itself more often laid on concrete than loose stones. The process is still often referred to as tarmacking – a tribute to the enduring esteem in which the original process is held.
Manchester Road Surfacing offers a variety of tarmacking services, both hand and machine lay, on roads, pavements or playgrounds.