A few years ago I noticed for the first time the decorative Victorian coalhole covers that are dotted along pavements and outside front doors of Georgian and Victorian houses. Old street furniture in general is fascinating, as it’s a tangible part of history, but I quickly became particularly interested in the history and designs of coalhole covers.
I was intrigued to find out how many different styles and designs survive in Stoke Newington, as these cast iron plates are obsolete today and are disappearing as pavements are modernised and houses are renovated.
Photo-survey of Stoke Newington coalhole covers
I carried out a photo-survey across all the streets within the boundaries of the former Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington and have discovered 100(!) different combinations of design, type (solid, venting holes, glass) and writing (name and address of foundry or ironmonger). This is the result:
The Hackney Gazette published in July 2018 an article about the photo-survey.
My coalhole cover collection
You know what they say: ‘You start photographing coalhole covers and before you know it you have a collection of five lined up in your back garden’.
My talk – ‘The Beauty of Victorian Coalhole Covers’
On October 16th 2019, I gave a Nerd Nite talk about coalhole covers. I was told by the organiser it was the nerdiest talk they’ve ever had! It was good fun and it was great to see how many interesting questions people had at the end. Photos and video snippets from the talk are available here.
BBC ‘Boring Talks’ podcast
I was chuffed to be invited a few months ago to record a BBC ‘Boring Talk’ podcast about my fascination with coalhole cover designs. It was great fun to record in the BBC 4 studio and also in the streets of Stoke Newington. You can listen to the podcast here.