Someone recently suggested in the pages of the Chronicle that Bath should bring back cobbled streets. Now, this would be fine for a few quaint byways, and I believe the original granite setts do lurk beneath the Tarmac in several locations (revealed it seems by lack of maintenance).
However, anyone who has tried to sleep next to a cobbled street in, say, Holland or Germany, knows what a flip-flappy racket is made by car and bus tyres of a night, even at restricted speeds. And in these places taxi drivers do nothing but complain about the frequency of tyre replacement required. As for traffic calming, have you ever seen a Dutch or German taxi driver driving slowly down a cobbled street at four in the morning?
Watching the guys meticulously replace and rearrange the cobbles at Bath Spa station forecourt of late would also suggest that such an operation would take an incredible amount of time with extended road closures as each stone is carefully hand positioned. Also witness the countless on-going minor repairs in evidence on the streets of the aforementioned countries
And as a temporary invalid, I can vouch for the annoyance caused by this most uneven of road surfaces. Many a slip between hip and stick, you might say.
Besides, we live in a modern city, albeit one with a myriad historic attractions and high aesthetic values. Bath is not yet a theme park! Leave the jolly old cobbles to Disney, I say.
In addition, one always hears of cobbles being torn up and used as missiles in times of public discontent. I can’t quite imagine the good citizens of Bath getting so hot under the collar about, say, traffic in Dorchester Street, that they start lobbing lumps of granite at the authorities, but Natural Theatre did once win such a cobble!
We performed in Romania and were awarded Best Performance by a Foreign Company at a cultural festival. The prize was a certificate and an engraved cobble stone from beneath the balcony in Revolution Square where the dictator Nicolai Ceausescu and his stony-faced wife were famously heckled and finally hounded out. Of course, the prize was too heavy to carry home in our hand baggage so sadly it had to be left behind.