Concrete Facts

W Froman 0116 Tile

The Roman Pantheon is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.The Roman Pantheon is the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome.

Although it's far and away the most widely used construction material on the planet, and certainly one of the main ingredients for a majority of inground swimming pools, most people tend to think that Portland cement has something to do with a big city in northwestern Oregon.

In fact, British bricklayer Joseph Aspdin invented the material in 1824 and named it after the tiny Isle of Portland in the English Channel, which was famous for its limestone. Aspdin's invention would become the world's first "hydraulic cement" and would change construction forever.

In 1850, as part of a campaign to promote the use of his invention, Aspdin started work on an all-concrete mansion named Portland Hall in Kent. In an early display of the material's versatility, a barge carrying barrels of cement headed for Aspdin's project ran aground on the Isle of Sheppey. When the locals recovered the barrels they were initially disappointed to discover they weren't filled with whiskey, but hardened cement instead. Ever the inventive folk, they decided to build a pub out of the rock-like barrels. Known as "The Ship on Shore," it still stands in the village of Sheerness.

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