It is now 120 years since the founder of contractor Tarmac, Edgar Hooley, perfected road surfaces now taken for granted around the world. Originally founded as the Tarmacadam Patent Syndicate Limited in 1903, Tarmac became synonymous with roads. The firm supported the UK’s effort in both the first and second world wars, where it helped prepare for the D-Day landings. The company also built the UK’s very first motorway, the Preston Bypass, in 1958.
Although the name Tarmac is used widely to describe road surfaces, it is worth noting that this type of material is now rarely used. Instead of naturally occurring tar being used to bind aggregates to make road surface materials, bitumen is now used instead. A byproduct of the oil industry, bitumen offers the same properties as tar but is easier to source.
The business diversified into construction in the 1920s and has since been involved with some of the UK’s most complex and iconic projects including the resurfacing the famous Silverstone racetrack.
Now as the company celebrates its 120th anniversary, its team of around 6,000 people is also focused on creating the next generation of innovative, sustainable construction materials to support net zero and tackle climate change. It is also ensuring the land the business works on continues to be operated efficiently and at the end of its construction phase is not only restored but regenerated, creating a positive, lasting legacy.
Tarmac has pioneered warm mix asphalt, which reduces carbon emissions and can be laid quicker to reduce roadworks for the travelling public. As part of its transition to net zero, it also became the first to purchase and operate a battery electric concrete mixer truck.
Celebrating the 120-year milestone, Bevan Browne, managing director, UK Materials at Tarmac said: “From the day that Edgar Hooley first patented Tarmac, our business has been synonymous with innovation and part of the fabric of everyday life. Hooley’s innovative spirit is embedded at the heart of our business and we’re constantly identifying ways of delivering construction and infrastructure for a net zero world.