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Report - Road Research Laboratory, Crowthorne (December 2016)

Freddie Valentine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
HISTORY

The RRL was setup in 1933. Its purpose was to research and provide scientific knowledge that could be used in the construction of new roads, street furniture etc. After the second world war, the rise in the number of cars on the roads led to an increase in driving-related injuries and deaths. In response to this, RRL created a new safety division. Work included studies of accident data, traffic flow, junction design, street lighting, vehicle safety and pedestrian crossings. One of their first early developments was the zebra crossing. They went on to research into vehicle impacts that led to the introduction of seatbelts to production cars.

The Roads Research Laboratory building at Crowthorne was built during the mid 1960's, opening fully in 1967. The main building is a typical slice of 60's English modernist civic architecture, the design of which is echoed in countless schools, town halls, MOD buildings, colleges and hospitals.

In 1972 The name was changed to the Transport & Roads Research Laboratory, reflecting its new wider role. By then subjects of research included studies of bridges, tunnels, road user behaviour, road pricing, public transport and the environmental impacts of vehicles. As well as developing better roads, looking at the issues of skid resistance, road materials, methods of construction, and measurement of road characteristics.

At the TRRL, Frank Blackmore invented and developed the mini-roundabout which was adopted in 1975.

In 1996 the TRRL was privatised and by late 2008 new buildings had been built on site and most of the 60’s buildings were closed.

EXPLORE

It was a lovely and sunny yet crisp and frosty winter's morning as we made our way towards the main buildings. After my companion took an unplanned toilet stop (heaven help the poor chap who has to deal with that one day) we made it inside. We headed straight for the watchtower so as to get a decent view of the site in its entirety and to check what, if any, secca were around.

Work is underway to tear down one of the main buildings, and minimal internal fixtures remain in the others. Somebody (presumably secca) had a drive round the perimeter at one point, but seemingly made very little effort to check the place. It's a big premises, so he certainly had his work cut out for him.

We enjoyed a good few hours mooching around the different buildings. All in all it was a cracking day out with some amazing weather, views and surroundings.

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