I always thought setts referred to badgers’ homes until I moved here, but in Stamford they’re the blocks that make up the old roads. No, they’re not cobbles, those are rounded whereas these are flat with shaped edges. I suppose one could call them stone bricks which essentially, they are. They are just as uneven and difficult to walk on as cobbles and have the same olde worlde look. Yes, in the summer they’re awkward, especially in heels but on a nice snowy day their unevenness underfoot provides a firm grip so setts get my vote every time over tarmac.
As far as Stamford goes there are several streets that have setts: Barn Hill and Kings Mill Lane pictured above to name two. They are really what give Stamford its Georgian feel. The icing on the cake alongside the stone buildings, churches, squares and the meadow.
Talking of squares, Red Lion Square has been the subject of much angry discussion. Those who hate the setts and want the whole area tarmaced and those who love them and want Red Lion Square re-setted. (Is there such a word?) The practical versus the aesthetes one could say. My view is that the setts are visually perfect for the town and since Stamford’s very being is dependent on the visitors who come to view the Georgian street scenes we should do our utmost to keep the mood and putting a tarmacked road right through what is a focal part of the town is utter madness. After all, we’re talking about the first conservation area here and we should lead by example.
After much deliberation the highways department have recently begun work replacing the setts to be finished by August. However, it’s going to take a lot longer than was originally anticipated as they had to shut down for several weeks due to a gas main that I undersand was not buried deep anough. Here’s a photo of the work in progress. Fascinating how they do it.
Walking down Barn Hill it doesn’t take much imagination to hear the horses arriving with their carriages and to visualise the scene. Ladies in their Georgian dresses, men in their top hats and fancy costume. Even now the noise the setts make is different to the tarmac. Long live the setts.