From the first ‘sticky’ road and D-Day landings to low carbon asphalt: Tarmac celebrates 120 years as part of the fabric of everyday life

September 25, 2023

To commemorate 120 years since Tarmac’s founder Edgar Hooley first perfected how to make road surfaces stick, the company’s illustrious history and its work on iconic infrastructure and construction projects is being marked with a special ‘through the years’ showcase being hosted across the business’ social media channels.

Originally founded as the Tarmacadam Patent Syndicate Limited in 1903, Tarmac quickly became synonymous with roads and supported the national effort in both the first and second world wars where it helped prepare for the D-Day landings, before building the UK’s very first motorway, the Preston Bypass, in 1958.

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 Wembley Stadium, Heathrow Terminal 5, The Shard, London 2012 and Silverstone resurfacing.

Tarmac, known today as the UK’s leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions business, provides the materials used to build houses, workplaces, schools, hospitals, flood defences, roads, bridges and tunnels. Many other everyday essentials – from paper and glass to drinking water, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and toothpaste – continue to be manufactured using Tarmac products.

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 was the first to pioneer and launch warm mix asphalt in 2014, 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 and currently transports millions of tonnes of materials across the UK by rail freight each year.

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.

“While our business is constantly looking forward, we’re incredibly proud of our British heritage, so it’s fitting that we celebrate the achievements of our current and former colleagues as well as the great work with clients and partners, past and present.”

Tarmac will be sharing memories from the business’ rich history from today (Monday 25 September), for the next few weeks, across its X (twitter, @TarmacLtd), Facebook (@TarmacLtd), LinkedIn (@Tarmac) channels and website. Activity will include stories from colleagues past and present, including some of Tarmac’s longest servers, and employees with a Tarmac family tree, along with photos of key milestones and from sites over the years.

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