Hundreds of thousands of cobbles to be re-laid in Thirsk marketplace

HUNDREDS of thousands of cobbles will be re-laid by hand in the biggest renovation of a Yorkshire town’s marketplace in 20 years.

Contractors have started the painstaking job of re-laying worn out parts of Thirsk’s marketplace in a £100,000 scheme that is due to be completed at the start of May. Hambleton District Council, which is overseeing the work, admitted the project will cause disruption as about 300,000 cobbles will be laid by hand during a tight timescale to take advantage of suitable weather conditions.

A council spokeswoman admitted this month’s freezing temperatures had caused delays, but it is hoped the scheme will still be finished by the first bank holiday weekend in May. The spokeswoman also stressed the work is especially labour intensive and does not lend itself to rapid machine-laying operations, such as resurfacing roads.

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The last major renovations took place in the early 1990s, and the council’s portfolio holder for corporate services, Coun Brian Phillips, admitted the latest scheme will cause disruption.

But he added: “The nature of the materials we are using means we are restricted to two time windows in the year when cobbles can be laid. It needs to be carried out when weather conditions are relatively mild and damp – either from September to November or from February through to May.

“When the temperatures start to fall it is too cold and the materials don’t set properly – when it is hot the materials dry out too quickly. We are trying to complete the works as quickly as we can, balancing this with minimising disruption and retaining as much parking as possible.

“We hope to cause as little disruption as possible over the Easter weekend and the work should be completed before the early May bank holiday. There is no ideal time for this type of work – but it needed to be undertaken and once completed we will have a marketplace to be proud of.”