Thursday, 19 December 2013

Rubbings are go


Star Foundry from TW Porter
J Every from Lewes

C+J Reed from Brighton


Another Every and Newman

Large Haywards

Modern stars
At last, I've located and photoed my coal hole cover rubbings from 2002 or 2003. There's a fine selection of foundries, styles and even sizes. All rubbings are from the North Laine and Old Steine in Brighton. The rubbings were done on a large A3 pad of artist's paper with black rubbing crayon from the now-disappeared artist supply shop on the corner of Richmond Parade.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Coming soon... coal hole cover rubbings.

Venturing to the back of the loft to retrieve the Winterval decorations, I opened a random cardboard box and there they were, not so neatly rolled up. Christmas does have some use, after all.

Once I've descrunched them they'll be on this website and those poseurs from North London can read and weep.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Grim up North

North London, that is. The Private Eye cartoon strip by Knife and Packer charts the progress of 2 urban hipsters as they navigate their way through the lentil-strewn streets of Islington and Hoxton.

The current story sees them doing some manhole cover rubbing in the grounds of a medieval church. Berets off to them is what I say - although being the two most right on people in Britain, I'm sure they should have asked to do some 'inspection cover' rubbing.

I must admit, whenever I read this cartoon it reminds me of many of my Brighton friends!

Thanks to Hugo for prompting me to post this. It reminds me that I must look for my coal hole cover rubbings when I'm up in the loft getting the Christmas decorations out.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Pavilion Buildings, Brighton

This fine, large coal hole cover is outside the Nat West bank on Pavilion Buildings near Brighton's Royal Pavilion.

I noticed it while queuing for the cashpoint and considering the footfall in this street it is in remarkably good condition. I was also pleased to note that the Council had obviously repaved the street with small setts and had resisted the temptation to remove the coal hole cover. Although I suspect that there were once many other covers in this street which failed to survive.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Kemptown glories

I've been told that Kemptown has many good coal holes, and so it should - being stuffed with fine Regency and Victorian homes needing copious amounts of coal. I had half an hour to kill the other evening and did a quick circuit of the streets to the south of the County Hospital.

I encountered a fine mix of people - skinny dodgy-looking yoofs with big scary dogs, large shaven-headed middle-aged men with small yappy dogs, ladies of leisure drinking red wine on their doorsteps and smooth couples in matching dressing gowns on their Regency balconies.

I also encountered a fine mix of coal hole covers, including some larger-than-normal ones and some from manufacturers not encountered further west.  Feast your eyes on this lot.

First up, in Sudeley Terrace - a trio of Haywards covers in nice iron surrounds.
Moving on down to the seafront, on Chichester Terrace we find these great ones - some supersize like this Haywards with 19 glazed hexagonal panels.

And this nice chevron flower design.

And this very pleasing 'bullseye' Woodrow design.

this beautiful Clare, Hunt design from Shoreditch...
this unnamed design with slots in, and
a larger version of a fairly common design.
Round the corner, in Chichester Place there is this Haywards self-locking patent design 'D' model.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Clermont Road, Brighton

This fine unbranded 'starburst' cover is near Preston Park station in the Brighton 'burbs. It could possibly be from the Star Foundry, although stars are common motifs on coalhole covers.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Coal hole covers not worthy of listing - it IS official

A very efficient Conservation Officer at my local City Council has directed me to English Heritage's guidance for listing street furniture, which states,

" Fairly standard survivals of nineteenth-century paving are unlikely to be of sufficient special interest, atmospheric as they undoubtedly are; nor are coal hole covers designated, enjoyable as their cast iron forms can be. Nonetheless, examples of rare materials will warrant serious consideration, such as the Victorian patterned bricks that form the listed paving to West Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire (listed Grade II). Other mechanisms may exist for their protection, notably their recognition via conservation area appraisals, and their retention during improvements and works."

This is disappointing, although it does indicate that rare coal hole covers could be worthy of protection and that they should be considered for protected during building works, which are both avenues worth pursuing. There are some covers that I've documented here that are rare within Brighton and Hove and worthy of some sort of protection from either developers or over zealous street improvements.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

It's official - coalhole covers not worthy of protection?

A few months ago, I emailed Brighton and Hove City Council in response to their call for nominations for the local list of heritage assets. Inclusion on the list would give coalhole covers a degree of non-statutory protection if a developer intends to damage or destroy them. And I thought it would also mean that the Council would be sensitive and try not to remove them if resurfacing a pavement. I think some of the finer examples would pass the criteria for interest and significance and I'm tempted to nominate them.

I was slightly surprised and very disappointed to receive a reply that included this statement, 

"The definition for locally listed buildings that we are applying to the current review is based on English Heritage’s definition for listed buildings.  Their guidance states that coal hole covers cannot be designated.  As such, it will not be possible to include coal hole covers in the city’s local list of heritage assets."

 So I've just checked English Heritage's definition and it states (my underlining):

...means a building which is for the time being included in a list compiled or approved by the Secretary of State under this section; and for the purposes of this Act -
(a) any object or structure fixed to the building;
(b) any object or structure within the curtilage of the building which, although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1st July 1948,
shall be treated as part of the building."

A coalhole forms part of the land of a building and is therefore arguably within the curtilage.

English Heritage's guidelines for local listing  does not mention coal hole covers nor manhole covers, so I am mystified at the Council's view and will be taking this up with them and English Heritage.

Save our coalholecovers!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Greville Street London EC1

A few hectic months at work have deprived me of chances to find new coalhole covers to document. However, another visit to the Hatton Garden area has delivered this beauty - a large cover with intact glass prisms and air vents, from an unknown manufacturer.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Coalhole covers in literature - part 1 Enid Blyton

My daughter has some lovely odd-parents who buy her great gifts. One of the first was a boxed set of Roald Dahl books which I loved as much as she did. Last Christmas they bought her a boxed set of Enid Blyton Secret Seven books. They are quite entertaining, although there is a whiff of 1950s embedded sexism and the leader of the Secret Seven (Peter, if you're interested) is a wannabe fascist dictator.

But imagine my unabandoned joy last night when I read the latest chapter of 'Go Ahead, Secret Seven' to my daughter. The chapter's title was 'Down the Coal-hole' and it featured a bull-terrier being lowered down the coalhole which was in a yard serving several buildings. I checked the book's cover and - sure enough - there's a picture of Colin, Herr Peter and AN Other lifting off the lid of a (rather large) coalhole. The description suggests that Enid Blyton was unfamiliar with the self-locking mechanism of Haywards (and other) foundries and I wonder if she actually checked out how they are secured. The picture on page 108 has a hint of the Luxfer 'cake' design, but the manufacturer of the cover is unfortunatley unknown.

Modern replacements - how not to do it

These two modern replacements are in Heene Terrace, Worthing and amply demonstrate how not to plug up an unused coalhole. There was an even worse example of one that had been concreted over. Surely as part of a Conservation Area and outside listed buildings (possibly even technically part of one as they are owned by the owner of the basement flat), the Council could have insisted on a more sympathetic replacement?

It would have been far better to have ordered one from a company like the Cast Iron Air Brick Company.

Go West pt 2 - Worthing

 Another trip to Heene Terrace in Worthing reveals a lovely horde of Pyke and Palmer coalhole covers from 140/141 Upper Thames Street, London - presumably the mother (or daughter) foundry of Palmers's Brighton - also found on Heene Terrace.

And at the top there's a large Hayward's coalhole cover. There are 2 different sized covers on this terrace which is interesting because all the properties were presumably built at the same time. Maybe the coalholes were installed later.

The bottom cover is presumably a replacement in a Pyke and Palmer surround. It looks rather fine. Unlike the ones in the next post. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hatton Garden, London EC1

Visiting Hatton Garden from Brighton is a lot more pleasant now that the Thameslink service has been improved and Farringdon station has been upgraded in a rather tasteful way.

I was intrigued to find that Luxfer coalhole covers dominated the street. Luxfer was a foundry based in the Finsbury EC area of London and probably better known for its pavement lights. I particularly like the way the Luxfer covers look like sliced cakes, ready to be gobbled up.

There is also a Haywards coalhole cover (top) with a combination of glass inserts and holes - another first sighting, I think.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Go west - Worthing

Head west out of Brighton and Hove and, after clearing Shoreham and Lancing, you'll reach Worthing. It's a less racy place than B+H, but still boasts a fine pier, seafront and interesting hinterland of mainly Victorian streets. I'm lucky enough to work there and often enjoy a lunchtime constitutional stroll along the diddly om pom pom. My perambulations in search of coalhole covers have been slightly disappointing until this week.

Battling my way against a stiff westerly, I thought I'd investigate the pavement in front of Heene Terrace, a fine Regency (or maybe Victorian) terrace of 4 storey flats to the west of the pier. It is set back from the main promenade and the pavement is therefore less likely to have been resurfaced. Sure enough, there were a series of iron coalhole covers, all in very good condition. The one at the top is a large Haywards cover, but the other two pictured here are from Palmer and Company of Brighton, a foundry I've not encountered before. There were some other covers, but my phone ran out of juice. Watch this space.

The Worthing Civic Society do a fine job of protecting the town's heritage, but I can't find any reference to the coalhole covers on their website.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Antwerp coalhole covers?

After my disappointing (coalhole cover-wise) trip to France, I wasn't expecting much from a long weekend in the rather wonderful city of Antwerp. After wandering the streets, bars and museums of Antwerp, idly keeping an eye out for interesting person-holes, I noticed that many of the old buildings had semi-circular grilles in front of their doorsteps.

Peering down these holes, I couldn't see any window or other indication that these were to give light or ventilation to basements - indeed many buildings also had rectangular lightwells. Many of the grilles had chains attaching them to something in the abyss below.

Given Belguim used to have a vibrant coal industry, I assume these are examples of Belgian coalhole covers - possibly the first pictured on the interweb!

In a lovely modern Museum Aan de Stroom, I also found these intriguing medallions set into the floor slabs, designed by Tom Hautekiet, based on the plans for Palmanova, the ideal Renaissance city. They would make ideal coalhole cover designs.

  Other places I visited in Antwerp are reviewed here, but not the excellent bars.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

East Street, Brighton

Strolling along East Street one recent evening, I was staggered to notice this fine Clarke, Hunt and Company cover. Why staggered? Because
1 I've passed this way thousands of times and never noticed it,
2 it's the first time I've seen a cover by this manufacturer in Brighton, and
3 its striking design including spirals, sunbursts and circles.

Happy New Year.