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What Have The Romans Ever Given Us?

Kerbs are probably one of the most underrated aspects of road design. They keep pedestrians and road traffic separate, channel away water, and generally make everyone’s life safer and more pleasant.

The Ancient Romans were the first to realise that a kerb ensures the bottom of your toga stays dry, and you don’t get run over by the passing ox carts. The ruins at Pompeii have left intact examples of ancient streets with perfectly preserved roadside kerbs that wouldn’t look out of place in any modern city.

early example of kerb in pompeii

As the Roman empire spread, there was increasing need to connect each great town with the next so they could easily trade and move troops. Thus started the vast network of their famous Roman roads. A road infrastructure that has outlasted the empire itself by many hundreds of years because of how well these roads were built.

They were built with excellent drainage that ensured the integrity of the road was maintained and had a longer lifespan than the average dirt track. The Romans achieved this through creating a surface camber, and adding kerbs, ditches and gullies to channel water away from the surface. It was thanks to these roads that the empire were so successful in extending into territories throughout North Africa, the Middle East and Europe, including Britain.

After they left this soggy corner of the empire, the roads they left behind remained in use for centuries. It was only after a thousand years or more that the Roman roads eventually succumbed to the ravages of time. By then, we Britons had forgotten how to build good roads, so for the next few centuries we trudged around on miserable muddy tracks.

It wasn’t until the 18th century we remembered that the Romans might have been on to something. Parliament passed a series of Paving Acts which re-introduced raised, paved footways to the streets of London, with kerbs separating these new pedestrian walkways from the traffic on the street.

Nowadays kerbs retain much the same functionality as they always have. Their main purpose being to restrain the edges of roads and paths, demarcating a safe line between traffic and pedestrian. However, this isn’t their only use. Kerbs and gullies channel water away from road and pavement surfaces, protecting them from long-term damage, and creating safer driving, cycling or walking conditions.

Kerbs also provide a pleasing finished look to paving, both in civil projects and in hard landscaping around residential developments.

When it comes to aesthetics one type of kerb stands head and shoulders above the rest. Our range of conservation textured kerbs are a superior product offering a wider and squarer profile (145x255mm) than the usual British Standard kerb. Made from up to 48.3% recycled material, these kerbs feature a lightly textured surface and exposed granite aggregate to create a sophisticated, contemporary look. This makes it one of our more favoured products where design-led flair is of paramount importance.

Had they been available in ancient times, we’re pretty sure they’d have been a firm favourite with the Romans too.

George Lines supplies and delivers a wide range of kerbs suitable for civils and hard landscaping projects of all sizes. For help with selecting and ordering the correct kerb for your project please get in touch with one of our advisers on 01753 685354, who’ll be more than happy to help.

Komal SangheraWhat Have The Romans Ever Given Us?