Tarmac sealed road surface
Edgar Purnell Hooley
Edgar Purnell Hooley
Born5 June 1860
Swansea Wales
Died26 January 1942 | Age 81
Oxford England

Edgar Purnell Hooley 1902

Hooley patented Tarmac in Britain, in 1902 (GB 7796). He called his company Tar Macadam (Purnell Hooley's Patent) Syndicate Limited registered in 1903, Tarmacadam in honour of J L McAdam. The Tarmac company was relaunched by Alfred Hickman in 1905.

Beginnings of Macadam

John Loudon McAdam was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1756. He moved to Bristol, England in 1802 and became a Commissioner for Paving in 1806. In 1816 he was elected Surveyor-General of roads for the Turnpike Trust. McAdam constructed his first 'Macadamised' stretch of road, Marsh Road at Ashton Gate, Bristol.

John Loudon Mc Adam
John Loudon Mc Adam

His Macadam method involved layers crushed stone decreasing in size to form a road surface. The technique did not include making the stones stick. This was fine in the days of horse drawn vehicles, but when cars started to become commonplace the surface became dusty and inadequate, the jagged material meant tyres often punctured. And when it rained, many roads became impassable due to ruts and mud.

The process was an improvement on methods used by Thomas Telford and Tr├ęsaguet.

Hooley is inspired
In 1901 Hooley was walking in Denby in Derbyshire when he noticed a smooth stretch of road close to an ironworks. He asked locals what had happened and was told a barrel of tar had fallen off a dray (cart) and burst open. Someone had poured waste slag from the nearby furnaces to cover up the mess.

Hooley noticed this unintentional resurfacing had solidified the road - there was no rutting and no dust.

By 1902 Hooley had patented the process of heating tar, adding slag to the mix and then breaking stones within the mixture to form a smooth road surface.
First Tarmac road. Radcliffe Road, Nottingham
First Tarmac road. Radcliffe Road, Nottingham

Having perfected the operation, Hooley began transforming road surfaces. Nottingham's Radcliffe Road became the first tarmac road in the world.
The emblem of Rule Britannia
In History
  • 16 February 1834.
    This month 190 years ago the world lost Lionel Lukin
  • 14 February 1779.
    This month 245 years ago the world lost Captain Cook
  • 05 February 1790.
    This month 234 years ago the world lost William Cullen
  • 10 February 1868.
    This month 156 years ago the world lost David Brewster
  • 26 February 1884.
    This month 139 years ago the world lost Alexander Wood
  • 10 February 1912.
    This month 112 years ago the world lost Joseph Lister
  • 23 February 1965.
    This month 59 years ago the world lost Stan Laurel
  • 08 February 2017.
    This month 7 years ago the world lost Peter Mansfield
  • 17 February 2011.
    This month 13 years ago the world lost Ron Hickman
  • Trouser Press. 100 years ago July 8 1924 Peter Corby was born
  • 21 February 1741.
    This month 283 years ago the world lost Jethro Tull
  • 19 February 1927.
    This month 97 years ago the world lost Herbert Akroyd Stuart
  • 06 February 1804.
    This month 220 years ago the world lost Joseph Priestley
  • 200 years ago in 1824 Portland cement is patented
The emblem of Rule Britannia
Who Invented?
Who Discovered?
Who Created?
The History of..