"pebbledash" -- WOTY?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Apr 19 16:08:23 UTC 2009

At 4/19/2009 05:57 AM, Michael Quinion wrote:
>Joel S. Berson wrote
> > "All the attention has been quite an upheaval, and she is quite
> > tired," Miss [Susan] Boyle's brother, John, told reporters Thursday
> > outside her tiny pebbledash cottage in tiny, previously unexciting
> > Blackburn, Scotland.
> >
> > The New York Times, Saturday, April 18, page C1, col. 5.  Sarah
> > Lyall, from London, where the interesting words come easier to the pen.
> >
> > And postdates OED draft rev. Dec. 2009, adj.,  -1991.
>"Pebbledash" is the standard term in southern British English for the
>external wall covering that you make by spreading mortar on the wall and
>then throwing lots of small pebbles at it. The Scots call it harling.

I never said it was rare, or that I didn't know what it meant (at
least after I consulted the OED!) -- in fact, I am suggesting (not
seriously, of course) that it will become even more common and widely
known with Sarah Boyle.

And Damien Hall wrote:
>It's much older than that. I've known what it meant since at least the late
>1970's, when we lived in a house that was, I think, pebbledashed.

I had written
>And *postdates* OED draft rev. Dec. 2009 [should be 2005; my error],
>adj.,  -1991.

Meaning (as Jesse and Arnold have noted) that the 2009 citation is
later than the latest in the recent revision of the OED, not that I
thought it arose recently.

>For anyone who's not familiar with the technique or its social implications
>- since I don't think I've seen it in the States, now I think about it, and
>my American wife's not familiar with it either, having seen a picture - it
>consists in covering every inch of the walls of a house in pebbles /
>gravel, which would be efficiently done by 'dashing' the pebbles against
>the walls, ie throwing them there, though I'm not sure that's how it's

I think I have, as a variant on stucco -- but of course I can't
produce an illustration.  But Asheville, NC-based "PebbleDash
Builders" might be able to produce an
illustration.  :-)  http://www.pebbledashbuilders.com/about-us.php
(Although I doubt they'd build one.)

_American Architecture: An Illustrated Encyclopedia_, by Cyril M.
Harris  (1998) defines "pebble dash" as "A stucco exterior finish in
which large pebbles or shells are embedded in the stucco base by
throwing them against a fresh base surface before it has hardened.
Also called rough-cast."  [from "cast roughly"? :-)]  Perhaps I've
seen rough-cast with shells on Cape Cod or the islands.

"Pebble Dash Bridge is a Bridge in the state of (county of District
of Columbia), located at latitude - longitude coordinates (also known
as lat-long or GPS coordinates) of N 38.93733 and W -77.05026. Pebble
Dash Bridge is shown in the center of the topographic (topo) map,
which is sourced from the United States Geographical Survey map USGS
Washington West quad."  (Maybe Google Earth can produce an elevation view?)

The book _Giving Preservation a History_, by Max Page, page 191
(Google), says that the architect of a 1913 restoration of the Palace
of the Governors in Santa Fe "applied a contemporary, pebble-dash
cement stucco 'simulating as nearly as possible the original finish'.
Formed by throwing a slurry of pebbles and cement stucco onto walls ..."

A house in 17th-century Boston was plastered with broken bits of
glass bottles embedded in the walls.  Noted by Hawthorne in _The
Scarlet Letter_ (he attaches this, fancifully, to Gov. Bellingham's
house), and described in Caleb Snow's _History of Boston_ (1825).

More than 'nuff said, I suppose.


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