Watching roads being surfaced

When I attended Reynolds Street junior school, I would walk to school with my sister or with friends, since it was only a few streets away.  Sometimes there would be road surfacing to entertain us on the way.  It involved a huge machine that enveloped part of the road with a metal cover to perhaps 6 inches off the ground.  Underneath were roaring flames that melted the tarmac covering over several square feet of road.  Workmen would follow to scrape it off while it was still warm and pliable, exposing the stone under-layer.

To children aged 8 or 9 this was a fascinating sight.  We’d stop and watch it for minutes, warming our hands in the heat its flames gave out, and thrilling to the roar of the burners inside.  We’d walk alongside it as it made its intermittent progress.  Behind it came another vehicle, this one with a cauldron of melted tar that would be poured over the exposed stone, and smoothed by workmen wielding long rods that had perpendicular metal strips at the end.  The technology must have changed, because I’ve never seen it done that way since then.

It made going to school more exciting, though it sometimes also made us perilously close to being late there because of the time it consumed on the way.