A factory on the Greenwich Peninsula was once the home of the manufacture of wooden tarred blocks - much used in all roads in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. A correspondent writes:
"I remember when most of the wooden paving blocks were removed when the roads were re-paved after WW2, in fact we used them for fuel since coal and coke were in such short supply; they were huge producers of smoke because they had asphalt laid on top of them, London justified it's nickname, "The Smoke". I don't know why they removed them, they seemed to do an adequate job, perhaps it was to provide work and improve the infrastructure at the same time. There was avery cold winter just after the war, it was the winter of 1946/1947 in fact, and I seem to remember burning the blocks that winter. We moved from Princes Square to Connaught Square in the January and my dad hired a coster to move the fuel on his barrow. He didn't arrive and was still missing hours later, we thought he had stolen our fuel, but it turned out that the police saw him with it and assumed that he had stolen it. When Dad reported it, the problem was sorted out but he had to pay the man for the extra hours he spent on the job.
Lest you think we were rich, the house in Princes Square had been converted into single rooms with my mother as housekeeper, we lived in the basement; the house in Connaught Square had been requisitioned by the council and converted to flats. I remember that the blocks were removed from Edgeware and Harrow Roads in Paddington but must have been taken from other places as well.
If it's of any interest, wood blocks were used as flooring in factories where heavy, localised, loads were moved around. A few years ago, I was designing the refit for a building in the Philadelphia Navy Yard for civilian use. The building had been used to make the heaviest parts of the drive systems for the biggest ships, huge propellers and prop shafts, the lathe beds were about thirty feet long. I was told that it was pretty standard practise to use the wood blocks so you might find some in old factories in London. The wood has an elastic modulus that allows the load to be spread, even over high spots without causing permanent damage.