Tar will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance

Berkshire’s roads and bridges continued to be damaged by the war effort, and it was now hard to find supplies for repair.

Report of the Highways and Bridges Committee, 5 January 1918
MILITARY TRAFFIC

Cumnor Hill and Swinford Bridge Road
Pending further consideration of the question of issuing a Maintenance Requisition for repairs to this road till 31 March next – necessitated by the haulage of bricks from Chawley Works to Witney Aerodrome – the Chief Engineer of the Southern Command has sanctioned exp3enditure up to £100 for immediate repairs, and the necessary materials have been ordered.

Oxford and Faringdon Road
The War Department have confirmed the proposed contribution of £155 towards the cost of repairing the Oxford-Faringdon-Lechlade road, and the works are now in hand.

TAR SUPPLY
Tenders have been obtained for the supply of tar for the year 1918-19. No tar can now be purchased except under licence issued by the Ministry of Munitions; the quantity available for the ensuing year for road purposes will, the Committee are informed, be much restricted and will only be permitted to be used on roads which are of national importance. The application made in December last for the purchase of 20,000 gallons in advance did not meet with success, as the Ministry would then only issue a licence for tar to be used before 31 December 1917. A return has been made to the Road Board of the approximate wquantity of tar required during 1918 for “scheduled roads” (i.e. roads of natonal importance).

BRIDGES
Tyle Mill (no, 125)
The reconstruction of Tyle Mill Bridge was postponed on account of the war, but the Acting County Surveyor now reports that it is in a very serious condition and notices have accordingly been erected to the effect that the bridge is insufficient to carry weights exceeding two tons; and also prohibiting the passage over the bridge of heavy motor cars.

It is understood that the hauling of timber from Ufton Camp to Tyle Mill Siding is contemplated and the attention of the Officer Commanding at the Camp has been drawn to the condition of the bridge.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Should PoWs repair the roads?

Berkshire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee told the councillors of the impact of the war on the county’s roads.

Report of Highways and Bridges Committee, 6 January 1917

ESTIMATES, 1917-1918

The Committee propose to frame their Estimates for the financial year 1917-18 on the policy adopted for the year 1916-17, which aimed principally at keeping in good condition the main tarmac trunk roads in priority to other roads, and doing a liberal amount of tar-spraying. Owing to the enormous amount of heavy military and other traffic which is constantly damaging the roads, the high cost of labour and materials, and war conditions generally, it becomes increasingly difficult to even carry out the restricted policy except at a comparatively high expenditure.

MILITARY TRAFFIC

Ascot and Blacknest road.
The Committee understand that a recommendation by the Road Board for the payment of a substantial amount to the County for making good the damage done to this road is at present receiving consideration by the War Department.

Military Requisitions.
A requisition has been received from the Military Authorities for the carrying out of road improvement works at Northcourt Avenue, Reading. An estimate of the cost has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

Census of traffic. In view of the damage which is still being done to main roads in the county by military transport traffic, the Committee have arranged for a month’s census of traffic to be taken at points on the Bath Road and the Reading and Ascot road.

POST-WAR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

The Chairman of the Committee and the Acting County Surveyor attended a Conference at the offices of the Road Board on 27 November last on the question of works of road reconstruction and improvement likely to be undertaken at the conclusion of the war, or works which it might be desirable to promote to afford employment for capital and labour. Highway Authorities were asked to co-operate with the Board in preparing a schedule of works. The principle generally agreed upon was that such works should be confined to the strengthening and improvement of existing road crusts only; and should not include widenings or construction of new roads.

The Committee propose to furnish the Road Board with a list of roads in Berkshire which will probably need reconstruction or resurfacing. The Board have been informed that the Council do not, of course, bind themselves to carry out all or any of the works included in the list.

STEAM ROLLERS

It is anticipated that the first of the three new road rollers on order to replace those taken by the Military Authorities will shortly be delivered, but some time must elapse before the remaining two are received, as the manufacturers are busily engaged on war orders, and can only proceed with County work on a certificate from the Ministry of Munitions.

PRISONERS OF WAR

The Committee have had before them a resolution passed by the Kent County Council suggesting the desirability, in the national interests, of utilising the services of prisoners of war for the repair and maintenance of highways, and are making enquiries in the matter.

ROAD SERVICE IN FRANCE

In connection with the organisation of a special Corps of experienced Engineers and Workmen for road work in France, a list of eligible employees has been supplied to the Road Board.

BCC minutes, 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

The Government demands Berkshire’s steamrollers

Military traffic was damaging roads at home, while road mending equipment was requisitioned to use on roads near the front lines.

Report of Highways Committee, 7 October 1916

MILITARY TRAFFIC

The Acting County Surveyor has reported that the road between Didcot and Harwell for a length of about 1 ½ miles, and a section of the Newbury and Abingdon road for a length of a quarter of a mile, have been completely ruined by Military Transport traffic from the camps in the neighbourhood. The Road Board has been informed of the damage and asked to make an inspection of the roads in question.

STEAM ROLLERS

On 4 September, 1916, the Road Board, at the request of the Government, made an urgent request that the three heavy steam rollers belonging to the Council should be handed over to the war Department for use overseas. As the matter was one of urgency, the request was reported to the Chairman of this Committee and the Chairman of the County Finance Committee, who provisionally consented to the rollers being released on the terms proposed by the Road Board, viz that the Treasury should accept a debit for the cost of three new rollers, and that the Ministry of Munitions should give the manufacturers a certificate to enable them to expedite the construction of the new rollers.

In the opinion of the County Surveyor, rollers of a lighter pattern would be more suitable for the work of the County than new heavy rollers, and the Committee have asked the Road Board to arrange for the delivery of one 8-ton roller and two 10-ton rollers. It has also been pointed out to the Board that the Government will effect a considerable saving by the substitution of light for heavy rollers, and a suggestion has been made that the War Department should discharge the cost of the hire of rollers required by the County in the meantime, to an amount not exceeding the estimated saving of £220.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/19)

The War Department should contribute to road repairs

Berkshire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee tackled the thorny question of who was to pay for damage to local roads caused by heavy army traffic.

MILITARY TRAFFIC

In connection with the claim against the War Department for damage to main roads by military traffic, the following estimates were, at their request, submitted to the Road Board:

Ascot to Wokingham Road: Resurfacing sides with tarmac in place of granite, £1541
Wokingham to Reading Road: Ditto, £2394
Bath Road, Reading to Hungerford: Ditto, £3544
Bath Road, Hungerford to Wilts county boundary: Strengthening foundations and resurfacing with tarmac, £4578
Total £12,057

After consideration the Board came to the conclusion that it would be reasonable for the War Department to make some contribution to the proposed expenditure, but pointed out that the works, if carried out, would not only provide the Council with better roads than those at present existing, but would also anticipate, for a number of years, works of renewal which, in the ordinary course, would have to be provided for in maintenance account.

The Road Board state that if the Council will undertake to carry out the works … the War Department will make a contribution of £2800 in settlement of the Council’s claim. In addition to this contribution the Board will be prepared – subject to the approval of the Treasury – to make a grant to the Council, out of the Road Improvement Fund, of £4050, and to advance the balance of £5207 by way of loan, free of interest, repayable by five annual instalments.

As the matter was urgent the Road Board were informed on 24 June, 1916, that the Council would be prepared to carry out the works mentioned in the estimates upon the terms offered…

Reading and Eversley road.
Owing to the heavy military traffic, the main road from Reading through Shinfield and Arborfield has suffered considerable damage. The road has been inspected by the Engineering Inspector of the Road Board; and an estimate of the necessary repairs is being prepared with a view to a claim being made on the Military Authorities.

MILITARY REQUISITIONS

A further requisition has been received from the Military Authorities for the improvement of a private road at Ascot for military purposes at a cost of £92, and the works re being carried out by the committee in accordance with the general authority given to them by the Council. The estimate has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

Payments to Sub-surveyors.
As these military requisitions throw a considerable amount of extra work on the Sub-surveyors, the committee have asked the Finance Committee to consider whether a proportion of the 10 per cent allowance to the County Council by the Road Board for administrative expenses should be paid to the Sub-surveyors….

WORKMEN’S WAGES

In consequence of the higher wages which are now being paid to workmen generally throughout the county, the committee have considered it advisable to recommend that an advance of wages be made to lengthmen and men employed with the tarring and roller gangs, for the period of the war….

C A Ferard, Chairman
8 July, 1916

BCC Highways and Bridges Committee report (C/CL/C1/1/19)

No vacancies for conscientious objectors

With the introduction of conscription came the thorny question of what to do with conscientious objectors. Some of them were willing to do some kind of national service as long as it did not involve fighting – but it wasn’t easy to find roles. Berkshire County Council gave a frosty reply to the suggestion that they should employ conscientious objectors.

Finance Committee report, 2 May 1916

MILITARY REQUISITIONS

The Highways and Bridges Committee report that, at the request of the War Department, the Road Board are making arrangements for the construction and improvement of roads required for military purposes, and are asking Local Authorities to co-operate in carrying out such works, irrespective of whether the roads in question are public or private roads…

Up to the date of this report three requisitions have been received for works to be done to the following roads:
Ascot, estimated at £94.0.0
Reading, estimated at £11.12.9
Arborfield, estimated at £1294.3.11

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS

The Government “Committee on Work of National Imprtance” has enquired, through the County Councils’ Association, whether the Council would be willing to employ men, having a conscientious objection to military work, on work of national importance in the County such as sanitary or asylum service.

It is recommended that the County Councils’ Association be informed that the Council have no vacancies for conscientious objectors…

NAVAL AND MILITARY WAR PENSIONS

The Committee have framed a Scheme for the constitution of a Local Committee for the county under the Naval and Military War Pensions etc Act, 1915, and have submitted the same to the Statutory Committee for approval.

Report of BCC Finance Committee, 2 May 1916 (C/CL/C1/1/19)