What? No cobblers?

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It is not so much the wheel that we seem to be reinventing, but the tracks on which the earliest wheels originally ran. Britain's urban residential roads are now carefully built to make the smooth passage of wheeled transport as difficult as possible. Instead of ruts and potholes, we deliberately build bumps and choke points in order to slow down the traffic.

It is not so much the wheel that we seem to be reinventing, but the tracks on which the earliest wheels originally ran. Britain's urban residential roads are now carefully built to make the smooth passage of wheeled transport as difficult as possible. Instead of ruts and potholes, we deliberately build bumps and choke points in order to slow down the traffic.

Many sentimentalists, influenced by watching too many Hovis commercials, have thought: Why not go the whole hog? Why not simply return all our residential streets to their pre-tarmacked state?

Cobbled streets. Not only would they slow down the rat-runners but they would look jolly picturesque. English Heritage, the Pedestrians Association and Friends of the Earth would all be happy.

There is only one problem. Cobblers. Lack thereof. Blackburn, Lancashire, has been forced to import skilled workers who know the difference between a cobble and a sett and can lay 222 stones per square metre at speed – from Portugal.

It seems that the children of the future, as they play in the street, will have to spark their clogs on the sleeping policemen instead.

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