What is a Bollard? The History of Bollards

Bollard definition:

  • a post of metal or wood on a wharf around which to fasten mooring lines
  • chiefly British : any of a series of short posts set at intervals to delimit an area (such as a traffic island) or to exclude vehicles

bollard definition

So What is a Bollard? Here is Some Bollard History and Their Origins

A bollard is a sturdy, short, solid vertical post.

Although it was first described as a post on a ship or quay used principally for mooring watercraft, the word is now used—primarily in British English—to describe heavy-duty posts installed in the ground to control road traffic & posts designed to prevent ram raiding and car ramming attacks.

Now, they are mostly used in front of businesses like restaurants and Wal-Marts in order to keep idiots, drunk people, and old people from accidentally slamming into buildings with their cars and harming or killing customers.

bollard crash

From the 17th and 18th centuries, old cannons were often used as bollards on quaysides to help moor ships alongside.

Cannon Bollards

The cannons were buried in the ground muzzle-first to approximately half or two-thirds of their length, leaving the rear end projecting above ground for attaching ropes.

cannon bollards

These cannons can still occasionally be found. Bollards from the 19th century were purpose-made, but often inherited a very similar “cannon” shape.

Early Bollards

Some of the earliest bollards were made from timber and wood; however as transportation changed from horses to motorized vehicles, it became clear that cast iron was a more suitable material.

Cast iron has a very high corrosion resistance and longevity, with excellent levels of durability.

Wooden Barriers

Wooden posts were used for basic traffic management from at least the beginning of the 18th century.

One of the first well-known cases is that of the “two oak-posts” set up next to the medieval Eleanor cross at Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, in 1721—at the expense of the Society of Antiquaries of London—”to secure Waltham Cross from injury by Carriages”. Similar bollards can be seen in many old, historic paintings and engravings.

Symbols

In the Netherlands, the Amsterdammertjes of Amsterdam were first erected in the 19th century. They became popular symbols of the city, but they are now gradually being removed and replaced with elevated sidewalks.

Modern-Day Bollards

Many people go about our daily lives without even realizing the role that bollards play in protecting us. It only takes a second for an evil vehicle to steer off a road and enter a pedestrian area…with potentially deadly results.

britain bollards

We do take notice when disaster is diverted by that short, heavy-duty post we’ve walked by a million times without a second thought.

Where Are Posts Usually Placed?

Bollards are often placed in areas like the corners of buildings, in front of building entrances, next to public phones, and beside mailboxes to protect against accidental vehicle impact.

When situated along roadways, they can prevent vehicles that overrun sidewalks from harming pedestrians. Bollards designed for safety reasons may be designed to fold, deflect impact, or break apart.

Determining the proper type of bollard suited to a location can be done by carrying out a comprehensive safety assessment.