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Plate 1. A portable asphalt plant manned by a motley crew of Bedouins, Sheiks and Europeans, carrying on the good work in one of the outposts of the French Empire.


This book seeks to draw attention to several important questions, which may be enumerated as follows : -


Beginning of road era.

Proposition One.

The world to-day stands at the beginning of the Road Transport Era, with which is intimately linked an era of Hygienisation. A clean weatherproof road surface becomes the channel of civilisation, along which the other gifts can flow. This clean road will contribute more to education and to the raising of the standard of living than any other known channel. The clean road will be the meeting-place of democracy; the Rolls-Royce limousine, the Ford tourer, the cycle and the donkey cart will learn to know and respect each other. (At present they are still at the stage of cursing each other, but good manners will presently assert themselves.)

Educational opportunities of the road.

The psychological opportunities for education offered by the road are infinite. A travelling vehicle symbolizes life. Each individual is trying to reach his destination at the speed that his own abilities entitle him to, but without running down his fellow travellers. Already the spirit of fraternity on the road shows itself most beautiful by the unwritten law that every motorist has the duty to stop his own career in order to offer help to the motorist in trouble. This spirit is not, as many may think, evidenced only by the educated few in the European metropolis. It is visible in the far corners of the earth.

Supreme commercial, industrial, economic, moral and civilising influences of the road.

The spirit of service is further symbolised by the growth of institutions like the R.A.C. and A.A. patrols, and the spirit of fair commerce is symbolized by the growth of facilities along the roadside: petrol pumps, hotels, diversions, which the motorist need not patronise unless they serve him well. The motor will enlarge markets, because it will suppress marketplaces. The whole country will be one huge market-place. (With apologies to Mr. G. K. Chesterton.)


Means of securing the good, clean road.

Proposition Two.

The means of obtaining the good clean road are at hand, for him who has eyes to see. It is difficult to pick one's way between conflicting claims, but the evidence on which to base one's selection is plain. The author has no hesitation in selecting asphalt.


Cooperation of the chemist and civil engineer.

Proposition Three.

The art of modern road surfacing requires the assistance of the chemist as well as of the civil engineer, the first to prepare recipes, the second to administer them practically. It is no longer a profession for the glorified navvy.


Cheapness of best methods of construction. Respect for old investments.

Proposition Four.

The best way of building modern road surfaces is also the cheapest and most economical: respect for Mother Earth, respect for old foundations; deprecation of massiveness, expensiveness and complication.

Wearing surfaces of a minimum thickness from wafers to 2 inches. Composition of surfaces 90 per cent. cheap local materials and remainder simple world-wide available product of Nature.


Technique of asphalt paving now highly developed.

Proposition Five.

The technique of asphalt has now reached the adult age, and is no experimental matter in the pursuit of its own justification. This technique offers wide vistas of independence through analysis and synthesis. The synthesis of the asphaltic mixture is now thorough and complete; we are now even in sight of the synthesis of bitumen.


Timeliness of alteration in specific installation requirements.

Proposition Six.

The present laboratory methods of analysis and testing of bitumen require a complete overhaul. In consequence the present requirements of specifications should likewise be modified.


Prospects and future prosperity of asphalt industry. Need of first class personnel.

Proposition Seven.

The prosperity of the asphalt industry does not depend on markets, as these are superabundant. It depends on management, equipment and supply. The possibilities for economy, on the one hand, and alternatively for leakage, on the other, demand the highest type of administrator. The problems of supply on a large scale require the resourcefulness of a R.A.S.C. officer, and the problems of execution involve qualities of leadership and perseverance expected of great soldiers and great engineers.

At a rough glance the world to-day offers a market for some three hundred million pounds' worth of asphalt paving, which cannot all be done, for lack of trustworthy asphalt contractors.

The question of securing contracts requires the expert services of the best type of salesmen and promoters, for there are great forces of inertia to be moved and great intrigues to be thwarted.

Trained men indispensible.

The asphalt industry offers little refuge to the draper's or grocer's assistant (however glorified) and none whatever to the intriguer, the opportunist and the humbug.

Faith and enthusiasm.

To be worthy, every member of an asphalt-paving organisation must have an unquenchable faith in the high purpose of his mission and the high destiny of his works.

Apology for this book.

If the author has succeeded in interesting five per cent. of his readers, this book will not have been written in vain. He hopes likewise to have rendered a little help to those who are already in the battlefield.

Fifth International Road Congress at Milan.

In the meantime, the Fifth International Road Congress at Milan will be throwing, next September, its own searchlights on this vital subject.

Directly you get a thing established, so that people can say 'Now this is right,' with the same conviction that people can say water is a combination of oxygen and hydrogen, there's no more to be said. The thing has to be done....

H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli.


Pedro Juan Manuel Larrañaga, Successful Asphalt Paving: A Description of Up-to-date Methods, Recipes & Theories, with Examples and Practical Hints, for Road Authorities, Contractors, and Advanced Students (published for the author by Richard Clay & Sons, London, 1926).