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Spherical/ovoid cobbles occur just about anywhere in the north of England/South of Scotland, including under the tarmac outside my house. Except on the coast they are not normally taken from beaches. They were dropped by the receding ice at the end of successive ice-ages, and are dug out of deposits just as sand is. Mostly flattened ovoids, they are laid "on edge". Setts are cubic, and therefore dressed, granite (usually), and are of much more recent development.
A lot of the setts in Birmingham were wooden cubes until the 1950s. Quite treacherous in wet weather. Remember seeing them still smouldering in New Street after a blitz. I think they were only used in level areas, sloping surfaces were granite, the irregular edges gave better grip I presume.Regarding the colour of the wooden blocks Tony Clarke, another uk.rec.models.rail regular was able to advise -
Chocolate brown. It took me a while to note that's what they were: the unusual mattness and their being laid in a grid rather than staggered, distinguished them from stones.Modelling cobbles is not too difficult, one modeller working in OO used dried peas set in plaster to good effect. In N you could do something similar using small spherical beads from the local dressmaking suppliers (Singer shops carry a lot of interesting beads, handy for modellers). Alternatively you can lay a bed of Milliput or modelling putty and go over this with a couple of lengths of tubing (squashed to rectangular form) to emboss the depression between the cobbles, tedious but effective. A variation on this idea is to make a sample area using something like plastic metal and let it set hard, then lay thick 'Bacofoil' (the turkey foil is thicker) over this and rub down with a soft cloth. This will actually stretch the metal, permanently embossing the cobbles into it.
For colouring setts and cobbles in general, micro-variations between grey and dark beige would cover most areas. Granite setts are almost pure grey, but most of the browner hard stones will weather to a pretty nondescript colour, especially dry and in industrial areas, that can readily be replicated from the standard weathering shades and materials. Texture of laying is the thing, as it's rarely utterly geometric unless you're doing modern heritage setting or "best" such as civic squares or main streets - important if doing tram modelling but less so for railway scenery as goods yards/canal towpaths were laid more rustically and soon disfigured from use. Obviously there was a time in any building's life when its floor was pristine, and one might assume that any time pre-WW1 things were better maintained - certainly from official photographs it was: every sett swept, every siding rollered and every ballast shoulder as straight as a ruler! No ash piles or streaked whitewash to be seen when headquarters came to inspect! The Midland Railway seemed especially keen on "spit and polish" in their official material.