Are you, like us, enjoying listening to English Teacher‘s latest song, The World’s Biggest Paving Slab? It’s pretty catchy isn’t it? But have you wondered about the subject of the lyrics? We love the fact that this quirky song is about an actual paving slab! And with that in mind, we thought it’d make a good topic for our latest Curiosity of the Week.
Where is the world’s biggest paving slab?
OK, it’s not the most glamourous of topics and as the lyrics say, it’s not something you’d normally pay any attention to. However, if you’re still reading this, we’ve obviously peaked your interest. So, you might be asking, where is the world’s biggest paving slab? Well, it’s located right outside Colne Town Hall in Lancashire and it is noticeably bigger than your average paving stone.
I am the world’s biggest paving slabThe World’s Biggest Paving Slab by English Teacher
But I sit here quietly
No one ever looks down at the ground
Yeah, no one ever notices me
The stone measures a whopping 10ft by 9ft, that’s 3m by 2.7m if you’re strictly metric. It was laid in front of the Town Hall during its construction, some time in or around 1894. The slab comes from Cloughfold Quarry, near Rawtenstall. Some say there were competitions to jump over it, but we think you’d need a good run at it!
The Town Hall is a grand building made in the Gothic style from Ashlar stone and has an impressive clocktower. It’s now a Grade II listed building but it’s far from this small market town’s only piece of notable heritage.
Part of the chorus to English Teacher’s song says: “I am the world’s biggest paving slab, And the world’s smallest celebrity”. But you might be surprised to learn that it gets a whole paragraph on Wikipedia, crops up in local tourist guidebooks and sparked a big flag challenge on the Valley of Stone website, amongst other places. So, it might not be the world’s smallest celebrity. But, is it the world’s biggest paving slab?
Is it really the biggest paving slab in the world?
Well, probably not. In fact, the paving slab in the song probably isn’t even the country’s biggest paving slab. That hotly contested title is challenged by another large piece of stone outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool. In fact, there are 11 of them in front of the building. But the biggest is just over 13ft by 10ft. So, bigger than Colne’s paving slab. Of course this is just the surface area, it’s hard to calculate the depth and weight!
St George’s Hall is big on its flooring and perhaps its star feature is the stunning Minton floor, which only goes on display now and again. It features 30,000 tiles and is thought to be one of the largest of its type in the world. You can go on a guided tour though and see the rest of the building’s amazing architecture.
Colne’s rich heritage
Although small, Colne is peppered with remnants of the past. Its fascinating architecture and decorative details can be seen everywhere, from the town hall, pubs and shops to the parks, lanes and houses. You’ll find more grand Gothic architecture at the Cemetery and Christ Church. But there are also surviving weavers cottages, mills, grinding stones and textile warehouses giving you a window into this area’s industrious past. Many of the shops and pubs still have old signs visible on the facades, windows and doorways, to give you a taste of what the buildings were originally built for. And you can still find the belfry of the old Cloth Hall sitting on the corner of Walton Street. There’s a handy leaflet with a link to a google map available, if you fancy guiding yourself around Colne’s rich heritage.
Do you know of a larger piece of stone paving? Let us know, we may even write another Curiosity of the Week about it!
If you have an idea for Curiosity of the Week then please do get in touch, we welcome suggestions from everyone. You can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message via Facebook. We are always on the lookout for interesting customs, hidden places, and unique buildings and landmarks, to share with our readers. To discover more quirky places, head to our Curiosity of the Week page!