I came across this guy on the Kings Road in Chelsea yesterday. He is, I guess, a pavior - he lays paving stones. I was impressed by his magnificent wooden mallet and asked if I could take a photo. This was his pose ...
This comes as a reminder that alongside all the high tech stuff and the heavy machinery, there's still a vital place for craft and hand technology. And for tools which feel as if they from another era - and in this case, perhaps are from another era!.
That mallet has seen a lot of pavements - and although it looks huge and unwieldy, its value is that it can make minute adjustments to the lay of a paving stone without denting or cracking or otherwise damaging the stone slab.
The pride - is it pastiche or real? - with which this worker posed with his mallet is also clear.
It took me back to the cover of an early issue of History Workshop Journal - illustrating a seminal article by Raphael Samuel: 'Workshop of the World: steam power and hand technology in mid-Victorian Britain'. The drawing is taken from the Illustrated London News in 1851.
This battalion of paviors at work in The Strand had something even more substantial than the Kings Road mallet to place their stones - but there is a clear link between the techonlogy in use 170 years ago and still evident on the streets of central London.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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