Footway Relay Project – York Road, St Albans

PROJECT TITLE: Footway Relay Project – York Road, St Albans
CLIENT: Ringway Jacobs

TG Ram Ltd team relaying an original Victorian footway in St Albans
TG Ram Ltd team relaying an original Victorian footway in St Albans

We were instructed by the client to take up and relay an original Victorian block in a conservation area of St Albans. We had previously completed a number of similar schemes in the city centre area of St. Albans. The ward member had promised the York Road residents similar treatment in their street. The residents were very keen to keep the Victorian style appearance of the footway to their properties. The road consisted of a number of large properties with driveways situated on the northern footway facing onto a local park known as a Clarence Park. The Budget for these works were limited in that, they were not part of the yearly footpath programme but from a separate Members budget.

At the commencement of the construction it immediately became apparent, unlike other local footways, that the blocks that had been laid by others previously on were wet concrete. This indicated that the blocks would need to be mechanically broken out to lift, which would inevitably result in numerous damaged blocks. Another problem resulting from the previous concrete bed install was that a number of blocks had hairline fractures due to the vehicle movement on a rigid footway construction, the weakest part of the formation being the block. The existing Victorian blocks were cast in old imperial sizes and no longer in production.

We quickly highlighted the issue to our client with the intention of assisting them in finding a solution to ensure that the expectations of residents and councillors could be met without comprising the priority of maintaining the Victorian style appearance. Following discussions with highways and local resident committee’s a substitute Ketley block to replace all old blocks was proposed, however it was deemed unacceptable to residents and had cost implications.

The local residents were shown and appreciated that some of the original blocks were in an unusable condition and a small percentage were missing, so some form of replacement had to be effected. It was agreed that we would reconstruct the northern footway outside the residential properties from the western end progressing east, by removing the blocks by hand, cleaning of concrete from blocks by chipping away at the old bed and palletising clean blocks. Following the installation of the new subbase the clean blocks were relayed. The short fall in the re-laid blocks, it was agreed, would be sourced from the southern footway in areas adjacent to the car parking bays. Upon completion of the north side sufficient new Ketley blue blocks were ordered and were agreed to be used to reinstate the public footway.

The scheme took 40% longer to build than the original programme, however, the outcome achieved a satisfied council and delighted residents who were all of the opinion their property values were enhanced by the finishing of the works. The total footway area was up to 1226 m2. A total number of 930 m2 of original blocks were reused with a further 296 m2 of the new ketley blocks required in the parking bay areas.

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      “The amount and the rate of spoil moved by the workers and lorries was very impressive. To top it all the paving stones have been replaced perfectly with no trip hazards we can detect.” Dr Howard Evans, Senior Analyst / Programmer, Prudential