Tarmac – a fortunate accident

Edgar Purnell Hooley was the county surveyor for Nottingham. One day in 1901 he was travelling along a road, close to the Denby ironworks in Derbyshire. He saw that a barrel of tar had fallen from a cart and had burst open onto the road, someone had then covered the sticky mess with slag from the nearby iron works. Hooley noticed that the effected section of road was now dust-free and unrutted by the traffic.

Inspired by this, Hooley went away and experimented, mixing tar and slag to produce a durable road surface. In 1902 he obtained a British patent for a new road surfacing material which he named Tarmac and on 17th June, 1903 he founded the Tar Macadam (Purnell Hooley’s Patent) Syndicate Limited.

Hooley set up a works to manufacture tarmac at Ettingshall in Derbyshire utilising the waste slag from two local ironworks. Unfortunately Hooley was not a very good business man and the business ran into financial difficulties due lack of promotion and the failure to attract orders for the new product.

In 1905  Sir Alfred Hickman, Ironmaster and MP for Wolverhampton, realised the potential of the new product and bought the company from Hooley. Hickman re-launched the company as Tarmac Ltd. Orders then began to pour in to the point where demand began to outstrip production. In 1914, a new factory was opened at Middlesbrough, near to the North Eastern Steel Company.


MIMA Exhibition -Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology

Teesside World Exposition of Art and Technology is an urgent reaction to the recent closure of Redcar’s steelworks and a bid to make a positive contribution to the future of industry in the North East region.

Capturing the industrial character of Teesside, the exhibition shows how it has formed, from the extraction of raw materials to production, as well as the import/export of goods.

The gallery features the activity of various regional companies alongside a makerspace, archival material drawn from Teesside Archives, the Central Library and the Dorman Museum, and works from artists such as Aikaterini Gegisian, Adrián Melis, David Mulholland, David Watson, Eva Fàbregas, Farid Rasulov, Goldin+Senneby, Hackney Flashers, Mikhail Karikis, MVRD, Norman Appleton, Philip Boville and Len Tabner.

Teesside has always been defined by its industry and has history of making. The eminent past and economic future of the area is explored through historical documents and artefacts, contrasted with a showcase of new industrial technology and works by artists who have portrayed Teesside’s steelworks.

The Exhibition runs until the 9th of October

Link to MIMA