Fringe Box



Much-needed Work Commences To Repair High Street’s Famous Granite Setts

Published on: 3 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2022

Workmen were in Guildford High Street on Wednesday (February 3) erecting fencing ahead of the start of the much-needed repairs to the granite setts.

Workmen in Guildford High Street as repair and replacement of its granite setts is begun.

Workmen in Guildford High Street, as repair and replacement of its granite setts is about to begin.

Costing about £1 million, Surrey County Council has contracted building firm Keir to undertake the work that is scheduled to finish on June 30.

The work will be completed in sections, cordoned off, to allow pedestrian access to shops and businesses at all times.

Specialist stone masons will undertake the work and the entire drainage system will also be replaced.

Fencing erected in the High Street where the repair work will soon start.

Fencing erected in the High Street where the repair work will soon start.

Surrey County Council states that the work will take place on weekdays between 7.30am and 5.30pm, and on some Saturdays.

The road will be open to traffic outside pedestrian times as at present. However, where work is taking place the carriageway will be narrowed and parking will be temporarily prohibited to maintain the flow of traffic.

Delivery vehicles will not be able to stop in any narrowed sections of the High Street, however loading/unloading bays will be provided.

Where possible, the original granite stones will be relaid. Where this is not possible, closely matching stones will be used.

The county council adds that once the work has been completed, any work on the High Street will be protected for five years. At this stage only emergency works will be permitted.

It also warns: “With any works there will be some level of noise and disruption. To minimise noise as best as we can, each area will be cornered off with an acoustic noise breaker.”

The original setts were laid in 1868 under the supervision of Guildford’s then borough surveyor Henry Peak. For many years afterwards regular maintenance was undertaken, as some people have recalled being usually on Sundays.

In recent years, sporadic repair work has been done, often criticised by users of the High Street as not being up to scratch!

Some work was completed ahead of the London Olympic torch reply that passed through Guildford in 2012.

Many people incorrectly refer to the stones as cobbles. They are, of course, granite setts. Cobbles are usually associated with naturally rounded stones of other composition. ‘Real cobbles’ used as roads and pathways can be found close to Guildford in lanes in Godalming, off its High Street.

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Responses to Much-needed Work Commences To Repair High Street’s Famous Granite Setts

  1. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    February 4, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Of the 3,000 square metres to be relaid it is anticipated that 200 to 500 square metres are to be replaced, according to Surrey County Council.

    The replacement setts are due to be laid together, rather than dispersed and will be as close a match as possible and will have their edges chipped to resemble the originals, according to Surrey County Council.

    If these terms of engagement are both correct and adhered to the, then I think this is acceptable.

    I do have my concerns but am happy to have this in writing from Surrey CC contact centre.

    Unfortunately, the terms relay and replace have been used interchangeably by both Guildford Borough and Surrey County Councils, which has caused some confusion.

    It is also very interesting to note that the master stonemasons are Kier, joint owners with Network Rail of Solum Regeneration, who are of course the applicants for the Guildford railway station redevelopment, so currently both a major contractor and potential developer in the town.

  2. Gina Redpath Reply

    February 4, 2016 at 9:37 am

    The pancake races are still going ahead on the High Street on Shrove Tuesday.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

    It’s good that only emergency works will be permitted for the next five years after the sets have been re-laid, but I would like to see a firm policy “set in stone” if you’ll pardon the pun, whereby any disturbance of the sets by utility companies, is repaired at their cost by contractors approved by the council.

    Hopefully that would mean that the repairs are made to a good standard, rather than the “chuck ’em down and slop a bit of cement ’round ’em” approach that has prevailed in the past.

    • Anna-Marie Davis Reply

      February 5, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Sadly for the last 10 years it has been more like steal them and dump in some tarmac.

      The fact that utility works have gone unchecked and unhindered is what has landed the tax payer with this enormous bill.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    It is good news that the High Street setts are being relaid and Guildford will again shine with pride and attract tens of thousands or more visitors just to come and admire the beautifully restored High Street.

    Of course, this was the top priority of Guildford Borough Council and this is to be followed by planned closure of Walnut Tree Close and work to replace Walnut footbridge.

    What more could Guildfordians expect from this highly motivated body of councillors and their executive when true priorities of work are to be established and carried out?

    Meanwhile, traffic sits frustratingly on Bridge Street while pedestrians amble across to Debenhams blocking the flow that tails back to Onslow Street and then to Bridge Street on a daily basis.

    And those trying to exit the station that would become even more difficult when Waltnut Tree Close is closed, curse and swear at the never ending flow off Farnham Road Bridge and Park Street and wait for a gap when they can dart out like a bat out of hell.

    No doubt there will be few more rounds of consultation and feedback sessions, followed by appointment of a consultant and more consultations and feedback sessions until there will be time again perhaps to redo the setts and maybe repaint the bridge railings, and so it will go on.

  5. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 7, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Closure of Walnut Tree Close!

    It was opened in the 1960s as a through road to relieve the traffic in Woodbridge Road when vehicle flows were much lighter then they are today.

  6. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 7, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Guildford Borough Council said it would be an experimental closure of Walnut Tree Close (WTC).

    Basically they have given in to the complaints of residents of WTC about large vehicles unsafely riding on the footpath within the narrowest section of the road because they cannot pass.

    There is a solution. Make WTC one-way northbound between Station View junction and the road beside Jewson’s site.

    Extend Station View through Jewson’s site that is due for development anyway and create a one-way southbound entry to the station using Station View.

    The rest of Station View could remain two-way to provide easier access to the properties on Station View.

    When further improvements are carried out, a bridge over the river could be built through one of the eastern sites on WTC that are awaiting development.

    This would then reduce the length of one-way on WTC ie WTC would be opened up two-way beyond the link to the new river bridge.

    So instead of creating further traffic problems, GBC could easily do this with minimum amount of money.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      February 9, 2016 at 9:19 am

      The sketch in the link below shows the one-way system that could be created as a first step and later a route to Woodbridge Road over a new river bridge:

      The document below is Network Rail’s consultation on the disposal of the strip of land on the west of Jewson’s yard adjacent to the railway fence:

      On page 21 of this document is Surrey County Council’s reply that refers to the Local Plan of 2003:

      “Network Rail will be aware that the land in question is currently safeguarded under policy M7 (access from Walnut Tree Close to the railway station) of the Guildford Borough Local Plan 2003 (as saved by the SoS on 27/09/07). If the land is disposed of any new landowner should be made aware of this policy and that at present any redevelopment of the site will need to be considered against this Local Plan Policy.”

      I hope the draft Local Plan that is now being drawn up includes this safeguard.

  7. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 13, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Proposed closure of Walnut Tree Close should be a major issue for discussion as the exit route from the railway station would become even more congested leading to possibility of more accidents and consequential blocking of the gyratory.

    Dear Ed, in view of the points raised above regarding a possible one-way system that could ease the problem in Walnut Tree Close, may I suggest a separate thread on this topic would be preferable.

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