Monday, 31 December 2012

Underwater view of a coalhole

Recently, our family had a very passable Thai lunch in Krua Anne cafe in the bijou Kensington Gardens in Brighton's North Laine. After the meal, I needed to use the 'facilities' and was directed to the basement where I found an amazing mural covering the walls and ceiling, depicting a tropical underwater paradise of colourful fish, vibrant coral and wibbly seaweed.

I noticed a circular indentation in the ceiling and a thrill shuddered through me as I realised that I was urinating in an old coal cellar underneath the pavement and the inundation was the hole left after the cover had been removed. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Every and Newman foundry of Lewes and Brighton

I'm indebted to David Joyce who has provided me with some history of the Every and Newman foundry in Lewes, after reading an article I wrote in the Hove Civic Society newsletter.

David told me,
"The 'Every' part was based in Lewes for nearly 150 years and was the biggest employer in the town for decades. The Every family owned the Phoenix ironworks. John Every came to Lewes in 1832.
By the time the railway came to Lewes in 1846, the Phoenix works were adjacent to the goods yard.
With the rapid expansion of Brighton at the time, I believe Every created an annex/branch in Brighton
to capture some of the (domestic) market.

The Post Office Trade Directory 1855 lists, under Ironfounders : ‘Every, J. (E Harwood manager), 26 and 27 Station Street, Brighton.’
In a Brighton Street Directory 1858 we find: 25 and 26 Station Street , Every, John stove and grate warehouse
In a Brighton Street Directory 1859, and the Post Office directory 1866 we find under Station Street: 26 and 27 Every and Newman, iron and brass founders.

In the Kelly’s Directory 1890 we find E.G. Brown, ironfounder at 16 and 17 Station Street, E.G. Brown was John Every’s son in law, and it seems likely the business passed from JE and Newman to him.

To me, it would make commercial sense to use just the Lewes foundry for all Cast Iron and Brass castings, but I cannot prove this either way. "

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Coalhole cover in action

Many thanks to Hugo Butterworth of Tidy Street, Brighton who has sent me some photos of his coalhole in action. After some initial spillage, the coalman has managed to get the sack into the coalhole for safe and efficient dispatch of smokeless winter fuel. Weren't those Victorians ingenious?

Waterman Street, London SW15

On a recent pilgrimage to the home of football (Craven Cottage), I rounded the corner to my favourite pre-match place of refreshment, The Bricklayer's Arms in Putney. I was stopped in my tracks by a pair of un-named coalhole covers in this grille design. I was intrigued because they would probably let water in.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Maunsell Street, London SW1

Three fine covers from around the corner of the august Royal Horticultural Society in the quiet backstreets of Westminster. I particularly like the Haywards concentric circles. The floral design is from Burt and Potts of Westminster and the one split into quarters is a Luxfer Prisms, from 16 Hill Street, London EC. Unfortunately, the glass prisms have been replaced by concrete.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

London by the Sea, Part 2?

On Third Avenue, the Hove seafront and in Adelaide Crescent, I found these unusual coalhole covers, all apparently from London suppliers, one of them from Nicholls and Clarke of Shoreditch.

Adelaide Crescent was disappointing as the pavements have obviously been repaved in the recent past and nearly all coalhole covers removed. However, one of them was a 1856 Chapman Parsons cover from Pimlico, which I've not seen before.

Monday, 20 August 2012


Usually Brighton is known as London by the Sea, but as far as coalhole covers are concerned, it appears to be Hove (actually).

I recently spent a sunny and fruitful lunchtime in Third Avenue, a little bit of the seafront and then Adelaide Crescent - a very grand Regency crescent.

In Third Avenue there was a rich haul of Haywards covers, some of which I've not seen before. Some are pictured here. My particular favourites are the 'cross' design and the 'No.3' design with hexagonal windows. There was also a previously unseen 'Nicholls and Clarke' design from Shoreditch.

Perhaps, Brighton was considered a little too vulgar to supply coalhole covers and one hailing from London had greater coalhole cachet?

Monday, 6 August 2012

Hail, the Hayward Brothers

The most common name you'll see on coalhole covers in either London or Brighton is that of the Hayward Brothers, of Union Street, Borough (now London SE1). So who were these chaps?

The Faded London blog has a good little potted history of them and it seems they were the archetypal Victorian entrepreneurs, starting off as glaziers (they patented a famous design of pavement light) and bought an ironmongery business in 1848. Thenceforward, the impressively bewhiskered siblings built and expanded a foundry in Borough, paving our streets with iron and street art.

One of the brothers' greatest services to Victorian society was saving them from nasty and embarassing injuries or even death-by-coalhole. Falling down coalholes through an unfastened plate was a regular occurrence in those times and the Hayward Brothers 'safety plate' using a 'twist and lock' mechanism was supposed to cure the problem. So, owners of coalhole cevers be warned - especially so in these times of 'elf and safety' awareness and litigous pedestrians!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hove actually

Brunswick Town Conservation Area actually, in the borderlands with Brighton. This part of town doesn't quite have the genteel air of parts of Hove further west and the pavements have taken a pounding.

However, in these streets north of Western Road there is a fair sprinkling of coalhole covers in designs not found in Brighton. The Hodges and Butler (from the Thames Silicated Stone Works, East Greenwich) example (top right) is in Brunswick Road, the others in Cambridge Road. The Haywards (bottom right) is an unusual 4 circles design, the Imperial Stone Co Ltd (also from the Thames Silicated Stone Works, East Greenwich) (bottom left) looks like a copy of the Hodges and Butler and the other has a lovely floral design.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Coleman Street, Brighton

Visiting my old Hanover stomping ground the other day I had to make a pilgrimage to the street that not only bears my name but also where one would most hope to find a coalhole.

And I'm pleased to report that there were a couple of remaining covers, despite multiple resurfacing of pavements.

While there was a common 'Every and Newman' design, this one was unlabelled with a pleasing symmetrical design of concentric circles and diamonds.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Wish Road, Hove

I know that Hove is a good hunting ground for coalhole covers. The genteel streets are less pounded, dug up and generally mucked about with than its brasher and seedier sister to the east.

So this Evelyn and Newman cover is a good one to start with. I particularly like the flower in the middle.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Lord North Street, London SW1

This cover is in the political heartland of Westminster, a street that Harold Wilson and many other MPs have lived in.

Of more interest to me though is that this is the first 'Smellie' cover I've come across, hailing from Rochester Row, not far away. Smellie was probably an ironmongers as it doesn't seem likely that there was a foundry there.

Queens Gardens, Brighton

A trio of interesting covers in Queens Gardens in the North Laine, including 2 from Brighton foundries - at least one them local.

The cover in the square hatched surround is by Every & Newman, Makers, Brighton.
The circular one, although a common design, is interesting because its been placed in a circular stone surround.
The Star Foundry (which was in nearby Bread Street) cover also contains the name TW Porter.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Around the Pavilion

These are near my old doctor's surgery opposite the Pavilion, outside Pavilion Buildings and on the stretch of Old Steine down to the junction with St James Street. This was one of the first I 'rubbed' back in the day. Its from a Brighton Foundry C&J Reed with a nice sunburst design. The second is from an unnamed foundry with some nice solar motifs.

The Haywards 'self locking' cover is the first I've seen of this design.

Down the A23 - Beaconsfield Road and Beaconsfield Parade, Brighton

Wandering down the A23 towards the seafront I remembered I'd seen some nice coalhole covers on Beaconsfield Parade and Beaconsfield Road (the one way bits).

On the northbound section just north of the viaduct is an unbranded 'Improved Patent Safety Plate' with a lovely sunburst motif. What's the point of patenting it if the name of the foundry isn't shown?

The second is on the southbound section outside a florists - a lovely Ashton Green floral design.

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".