Concrete History

Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world and with a 9000-year history it has played a major part in shaping modern civilization. The Romans were particularly adept at using concrete but it was also known to the Egyptians and in a primitive form to Neolithic civilisations.

The main difference between the concrete found in these classical civilisations and modern ready mixed concrete is the binding agent. The Egyptians used crushed gypsum, the Romans knew how to make lime by burning crushed limestone and they even discovered that adding volcanic ash or old bricks and tiles improved the setting characteristics of their cement.

Modern concrete was developed after the discovery of Portland cement. First patented in 1824 but not developed in its present form until 1845 when higher kiln temperatures were achieved, Portland cement made new forms of construction possible.

Despite these advances attempts to supply the building trade with ready mixed concrete on-site foundered until the late 1920’s when delivery trucks were fitted with a drum that agitated the concrete while on the move. In the UK, the first Readymix operation was set up in 1930 and by the 1960’s a successful national network of concrete plants was firmly established.

Today, Readymix concrete comprises a mix of aggregates, cement, water and a variety of admixtures. Understanding these individual ingredients in a little more detail provides an insight into ways of obtaining the best results for different types of project.

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