Saturday, 30 June 2012

Tidy Street (again), Brighton

The photo on the left shows a modern replacement with a nice diamond design. The maker is Carron.

I like the other example because its right underneath someone's overhanging bay window and has got holes in it - surely the rain would get in and make the coal wet?

Friday, 29 June 2012

Charlwood Street, London SW1

This is a nice coalhole cover from Pimlico. I particularly like the font used and the fact its from an ironmongers (V Pullin, 16 Warwick Street, London SW), not a foundry.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tidy and Over Streets, North Laine, Brighton

These photos are taken in adjoining streets (Over Street in the middle) in Brighton's North Laine area, near the station. The North Laine (Laine is another name for a field and the street pattern in this part of Brighton follows the old field boundaries) was the industrial heartland of Brighton after the railway arrived. There were foundries and basketmakers, among other trades. These only survive in the form of street and pub names. Both these streets have been repaved so its good to see that the coalhole covers have been kept. At least one resident of Tidy Street still uses theirs.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Trafalgar Terrace, Brighton

A lovely arty cover in Trafalgar Terrace in the North Laine, Brighton. I wonder if the pebbles are off Brighton beach?

Sent from Samsung Mobile

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Campbell Road, Brighton

This is a common design in Brighton. Campbell Road is just south of the magnificent viaduct that takes the railway towards Lewes. The text reads "J Every Lewes".

Francis St, London SW1

All of these covers (or, in the case of the 2nd one down, a modern replacement) were in close proximity to each other outside a mansion block round the back of Westminster Cathedral (not the Abbey). Some had been replaced with modern covers, some had been repaired. What I liked about them were that they were all different and had features frequently and infrequently found on coalhole covers - circular windows (quite rare), intricate star patterns (quite common) and concentric circles (common). The text on the 3rd one down reads: "Hayward + Brothers. 187 189 Union Street Rough" I think this should be "Borough" not "Rough".

Westminster Bridge Road, London SE17

It was this beautiful coalhole cover that made me think of setting this blog up. I came across it near Waterloo station. The text around the outside ring reads, "This ring to be fixed with Portland Cement. For Haywards Patent Plate 12in". The next inscription towards the middle reads "Clapham & Camberwell", then "Economy.Efficiency. Durability " and the name of the foundry is in the cross in the middle: "H.C. Davis and Co".

Welcome to coalhole cover compendium

Welcome to my blog about coalhole covers (or, in Latin opercula) of the UK. I've been a bit obsessed about these for a few years as I marvelled at the lovely design of some of them, their history and what they told us about the way people used to live.

They are usually set into pavements or just within the curtilage of houses in towns and cities where the properties had cellars containing coalholes. The cover would be lifted by the coalman and the coal poured down into the underground cellar. A door from the inside would allow the householder (or their servant) to fill a coal scuttle and then stoke the fires of the house. Their use meant that there was no mess and dust of having the coal delivered.

They are increasingly being lost as Councils replace pavements.

The designs reveal the forgotten industrial history of our towns - in many cases the covers are marked with the name of the foundry where they were made. These have often disappeared.

A few years ago I started to record the coalhole covers in my home town of Brighton by photographing them.Then I took it one step further and took rubbings of them. Photographs of my rubbings are on this blog and I aim to post a photo of each different design I find.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos are by me and are in the UK. Please contact me with any comments and contribute history or your photos.

This is the largest collection of coal hole cover photos on the web (that I've found).

Andrew 'Coalhole' Coleman