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Blog Category: coal-holes (31 posts)


danielemiddleton | 30th March 2020 |
Caius Gabriel Cibber was born in Germany and moved to London after completing his studies. He was not really good with money, and after gambling his and his wife’s fortune away, he ended up in the debtor’s prison across the river in the infamous Clink. Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke received court permission and during the construction of The Monument Cibber was released during the day to work on his sculpture, but had to go back during the nights. The sculpture on the west panel of the pedestal, facing Fish Street Hill is one of the most interesting sculptures in the City of London. The Frieze is allegorical which means it tells us a story, which in this case is the story of destruction of London on the left and the reconstruction on the right. Each character symbolises or represents different things, so let’s start from the left side: Sitting on broken masonry, holding a sword, we have a Lady representing the CITY OF LONDON, she is on the top of a dragon that has been the symbol for the City for centuries. Behind her Father TIME is helping the City to get back up, he also has the help of Mercury representing INDUSTRY, who is holding a Caduceus – a symbol of commerce and negotiation. On the left side everyone is walking towards THE CITY. The centre character, King Charles II is dressed as a Roman Emperor, standing on a stone platform with a baton of command in his right hand as he gestures towards the personification of ARCHITECTURE. Architecture is holding a square and a compass in her left hand and the plans for the new City on her right. LIBERTY is behind her holding her cap bearing the words LIBERTAS. Another figure balances the representation of NATURE in her hands, a symbol of abundance. On the right side of King Charles II stands his brother, the Duke of York, who helped to put out the fire and is also representing VICTORY. Behind them we have two figures, JUSTICE with a coronet, and FORTITUDE with a reined lion. Beneath them E...

danielemiddleton | 28th January 2020 |
London is amazing. So many things going on in the City. So many people rushing around all the time. Cars. bikes. Scooters. People. People. People. Stop for a minute. Look up...Look around you...see that building you passed by 1.000 times during lunch? What is that in front of the main entrance? What the faces on the Architecture mean? Why the name? Just stop and you will discover London even more. You will find the love that the city has for its history. You will feel the stories dripping down the walls and running down the forgotten Alleys. London simply can't stop the love. You have to stop and enjoy it. Just look around. ...

danielemiddleton | 11th June 2018 |
Originally built in AD70 and then expended in AD90 – 120, London’s Roman basilica was a building unlike any other in Britain. Occupying nearly 2 hectares of land and standing at a height of up to 3 storeys high, this building was larger than the present day St Paul’s Cathedral! The basilica acted a civic centre and housed city administrators, law courts, an assembly hall, the treasury and shrines. At its height it was also the largest building of its type north of the Alps, showing the importance of London within the Roman Empire. The basilica also formed one side of a forum, a huge open-air square that acted as a public meeting place (similar to modern day Trafalgar Square) and housed many shops and market stalls. The forum was also a popular place for socialising and partying in Roman London! Throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries, numerous structural faults were identified with the buildings and a series of repairs and modifications were carried out. However, the nail in the coffin didn’t come until AD300, when both the basilica and forum were destroyed by Rome as a punishment for London supporting the rogue emperor Carausius. Although small portions of the forum may have survived, the majority of the basilica and forum were lost into the annals of history until the construction of Leadenhall Market in the 1880s. During this building work, a large support was found which would have acted as the base of an arch in one of the basilica’s arcades. Today, these remains are housed in the basement of a barber’s shop at the corner of Gracechurch Street and Leadenhall Market. The receptionist of the Barber's is lovely and let me go down to have a look at tge remains myself. Absolutely amazing part of London's history....

danielemiddleton | 04th January 2018 |
This BEAUTY was one of my birthday presents this year. I have NO idea what I will do with it but IT IS MINE.  It scares me that since I got it all I can think about is: WHEN WILL I GET THE NEXT? I love Coal Holes and I can't deny that it is amazing to have a piece of London's history just mine. ...

danielemiddleton | 24th April 2017 |
There is this exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery that explores personal stories of those involved in the First World War.  I saw the exhibition a few times this week as I work there. I saw many exhibitions in my many years of working at Museums and Galleries but this one piece in this exhibition made my heart sink, made me think, made me cry alone at the Gallery, made me want to know this people, made me want to go home and hold the ones I love forever. Collection of Tears by Jessie Ellman created in 1917 after the death of Lt. W.G. Hicks. Bellow some of the sayings... When we stood beneath the stars. The kiss by the church. Thinking of the day you asked me to marry. I shall miss you so much. Your last message of love  The day I first saw you in uniform and realised it was real. The day you left for France. Everyday when I was afraid for you and had no news. Dreams of our wedding day and our love. The dead of all my hoped and dreams. When they said they had news of you, and you had died. 3rd July 1917. ...

danielemiddleton | 24th April 2017 |
The Mercers' Maiden is the symbol and the coat of arms of the Company. She first appears on a seal in 1425. Her precise origins are unknown, and there is no written evidence as to why she was chosen as the Company's emblem. She always adorns the exterior walls of buildings on sites that belongs to the company.  The one here is the earliest surviving Maiden property mark dating from 1669. It was reinstated on this site during redevelopment in 2004.  You can find the map of all of them HERE and have some fun finding then. ...

danielemiddleton | 23rd April 2017 |
In an attempt to improve the water quality in London the Metropolis Water Act of 1852 made a "provision for securing the supply to Londo  of pure and wholesome water". Around the same time the "Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association" was formed. The only agency fir providing free supplies of water for man and beast in the streets of London.  ...

danielemiddleton | 22nd April 2017 |
Discover the unsung heroes who have kept Tower Bridge in motion for over 120 years. From coal stockers to cooks, visiting Tower Bridge and the Victorian Engines will take you back in time and make you feel how history is engraved in every corner of this iconic building.  The new Walk of Fame is my favorite stop now...looking a lot like an old victorian Coalhole the walk shows you names of people who worked at the Bridge directing you to the old victorian Engines. Know more about the People of Tower Bridge. ...

danielemiddleton | 24th April 2016 |
I wonder what is going on at Pudding Lane near the Monument of the Great Fire. Did they find something old?Any relation to the Roman Baths @ Billinsgate? Whatever it is I am curious now to know what is bellow. 350 years ago we had the Church of Saint Margareth of New Fish Street that was destroyed at the 1666 Great Fire...and never rebuilt. ...

danielemiddleton | 02nd July 2014 |
I live in Melrose Avenue for just over a year now and only today I discovered this fact about my neighbor. Dennis Nilsen know as Muswell Hill or Kindly Killer committed the murders of a minimum of 12 young men in a series of killings committed between 1978 and 1983. His victims would be lured to these addresses through guile and all were murdered by strangulation, sometimes accompanied by drowning. Following the murder, Nilsen would observe a ritual in which he bathed and dressed the victims' bodies, which he would retain for extended periods of time, before dissecting and disposing of the remains via burning upon a bonfire, or flushing the remains down a lavatory. "I eased him into his new bed [beneath the floorboards] ... A week later, I wondered whether his body had changed at all or had started to decompose. I disinterred him and pulled the dirt-stained youth up onto the floor. His skin was very dirty. I stripped myself naked and carried him into the bathroom and washed the body. There was practically no discoloration and his skin was pale white. His limbs were more relaxed than when I had put him down there". Nilsen's written recollections of the ritual he observed after the murder of his first victim....

danielemiddleton | 02nd February 2012 |
That is a perfect example of "Luxfer Prisms" coal hole, after all Luxfer was mostly responsible for pavement lights, but this example gives you 2 in 1!!! Situated at 16 Hill Street - London the company started in October 1896 with the intention to make sunlight come into dark rooms reducing the need for artificial lighting. "Luxfer" from the Latin words lux (light) and ferre (to carry). Found @ East End....

danielemiddleton | 29th January 2012 |
In 1995, to celebrate the area’s history and cultural diversity, 25 cast iron roundels, with 20 different patterns, were set into pavements around Spitalfields. Each roundel, looks about the same size as the Victorian 'coal-hole' cover. It carried an image telling a story. The artist, Keith Bowler, who has lived in Spitalfields for many years, designed them and had them cast locally. This one I found at Brick Lane just at the pavement of Christ Church School. You can see two children, dressed in 18th century costume, shown as pictures in a book and surrounded by eight pencils. My new task is to find all of them after all they are not coal hole, but the roundels are worthy to look for. ...

danielemiddleton | 26th January 2012 |
This plaque marks and points to the entrance to Angel Alley where the Freedom Press and bookshop are located, the world's largest anarchist publisher. The Alley also has a large mural of famous anarchists. The Alley is also very famous during the times of Jack the Ripper when it was used for girls to have some "privacy" during their working hours. Extensively used by prostitutes and their clients for centuries is also known as the place were Martha Turner (one of Jack the Ripper's victims) used to hang out with a friend known as Pearly Poll. It isn't a coal hole but reminds me of one and I do think it should be part of my collection and you all should enjoy as well....

danielemiddleton | 24th January 2012 |
I love coaholes. Off course I do, otherwise I wouldn't ever have started this blog in first place. But how much other people love their coalhole? It is important to protect things you love and this house at Bedford Place - Holborn, does love their coalhole. ...

danielemiddleton | 17th January 2012 |
1954 might seem a little late in the day for coalhole plates, but  A. C. Woodrow & Co were still offering them for sale through publications such as Roads and Road Construction. In fact A.C. Woodrow specialised in cast iron castings throughout their history and are one of the most commonly seen names on manhole covers and other street ironware. They seem to have started off in Holborn, London but then moved out to Kent where they were still going strong at least into the 70s, and even now, for all I know. One interesting snippet caught my eye from the Municipal and Public Services Journal of1970 This golf trophy - imaginatively combining the scale model of a manhole cover surmounting three silver replicas of the Minoan axe - has been presented to the staff of Milton Keynes Development Corporation by A. C. Woodrow and Company. The Woodrow trophy will be presented annually...[at] the Tower Club... Sadly I couldn't find a picture of this 'imaginative' trophy. I wonder if it's still being contested to this day? ...

danielemiddleton | 11th January 2012 |
Knock-Knock. Who's there? Coal. Coal who? Coal me if you hear anyone coming!!!! I really don't have a reason to torture people, but knock knock jokes are my favorite. After heard this one during Xmas I had to put it up. And the photo I took at Maunsel Street SW1, it does the justice. Found @ Maunsel Street SW1 - The style is the same one used by DUREY, so I figure is the same!!! ...

danielemiddleton | 11th January 2012 |
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danielemiddleton | 09th January 2012 |
I've got some pictures of coal hole covers by Alfred Solomons, of 195 & 197 Caledonian Road N1.The plain edges are wider and there is nothing written across the central part, but apart from that, the patterns are exactly the same. I heard that there are several along Doughty Road and around in Bloomsbury as well.Found @ Lamb's Conduit St....

danielemiddleton | 07th January 2012 |
From the The Horsham Times ALL NIGHT IN A COAL HOLE--- The Late. Rev. Dr Wrightman, of Kirkmahoe, one night, sitting later than usual sunk in the profoundities of a great folio tome, imagined he heard a sound in the kitchen inconsis tent with the quietude and security of the manse, so taking his candle, he pro ceeded to investigate the cause. His foot being heard in the lobby, the house keeper began with all earnestness to, cover the fire, as if preparing for bed. "Ye're late up to-night Mary." I'a. jnit rakin' the fire, sir; and gaun ts bed." That's right, Mary; I like ti-meoes hours. On his way back to the study he passed the coal closet, and turning the key, took it with him. Next morning, atan early hour, there was a: rap at his bedroom door, and a request for the key to light the fire. "Ye're too soon 'up, Mary ; go back to your bed yet." Half an hour later there was another knock and a similar re quest, in order to prepare the break fast. I don't want breakfast so soon,. Mary; go back to your bed." Another half hour, and another knock, with entreaty for the key, as it was washing day. This was enough. He rose, and handed out the key, saying-" Go and let the man out !" Mary's sweetheart had, as the minister shrewdly suspected, been imprisoned all night in the coal closet, where, Pyramus and Thisbe like,. they had breathed their love to each. other through the keyhole. Such a lovely "coalmantic" story!!!! Found at: Alexander Sq - South Kensignton....

danielemiddleton | 07th January 2012 |
While walking around Holborn I came across this "Jail looking" coal hole. It made me remember of the symbol they used for The Tower of London. This sort of a of medieval gate. Found @ Red Lion. ...

danielemiddleton | 05th January 2012 |
Hayward Brothers, 187 & 189 Union Street, Borough. Hayward's coal holes are widely found in London and the provinces. Apart from the patent self-locking plates, they are one of the few manufacturers to insert glass panels to provide light in cellars. Their large glazed gratings can be found in front of many Victorian buildings. No idea where I found this one, but a simple walk around and you can find one as well....

danielemiddleton | 04th January 2012 |
This coal plate is not just another lump of metal. None of the coal holes are. Look closely and you’ll find some similarity to the Order of the Garter star (in my crazy mind at least). Every foundry had its own design, often containing intricate geometric patterns. So London might not be paved with gold, but it’s got some beautiful cast iron. CLAPHAM & CAMBERWELL - Economy. Efficiency. Durability Found @ Alexander Square....

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
" This district once boasted a race-course & it retains something of the dashing, classless. devil-may-care, yes, racy sense of the turf." (Hugh Thomas - 2004) Here ends the hunting of the Pavement Poetry. I recommend going to their site, downloading the map and going for a walk. After all, a walk in Notting Hill is just as lovely as the poetry they stamp into our pavements. Also lets not forget of all the other coal holes, they are part of London, all those coal holes that look up on us, visitors of other centuries... Found @ Portland Road near to the Cross Shop...

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
Victorians decried this street Barbaric, they said, discordant. LOOK NOW. The buildings stand the same. Mind and hearts change. (Colin Thubron - 2004) Found @ St. Ann's Road a street that isn't as Barbaric as the Victorians thought it was....

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
Notting Hill that vigorous, creative & diverse London village. Beneath whose pavements the Roman legions marched westward from Londinium. (P.D.James – 2004) Found @ Holland Park Avenue just at the pavements of Daunt Book Shop (that by the way is always worth a visit)....

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
Notting Hil that vigorous, creative & diverse London village. Beneath whose pavements the Roman legions marched westward from Londinium. (P.D.James - 2004) Found @ Holland Park Avenue just at the pavements of Daunt Book Shop (that by the way is always worth a visit)....

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
This one came from Margaret Drabble the novelist. She is also a Notting Hill resident and just like all the other 7 artists she accept the project and also contributed with a lovely phrase to turn the pavements into lines of poetry. "Behold the glittering coronet of diamonds, tears and dreams." (Margaret Drabble - 2004) Found @ Notting Hill Gate just at The Coronet Cinema pavement! ...

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
danielesmiddleton@gmail.com's photostream on Flickr....

danielemiddleton | 03rd January 2012 |
Faulks's coal-hole cover cocks a snook at the less fortunate denizens of nearby Shepherd's Bush. He has written: "A word in your eye Don't worry or push A step in the Gate Is worth two in the Bush." 2004 - Sebastian Faulks. Found @ Horbury Crescent. ...

danielemiddleton | 02nd January 2012 |
Here is some other "art" in coal hole, this one made by: Michael Holroyd 2004. It reads: "This streetwise area is dedicated to all ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS. Signed: The Napoleon of Notting Hill." Why does he consider himself "The Napoleon of Notting Hill"? It will be always a mystery to me. But one thing I'm sure, he did very well with the coal hole!!! Found @ Powis Square. ...

danielemiddleton | 30th December 2011 |
Just opposite "Charles Dickens House Museum" I found this coal hole. New for my collection: trade mark - C.WHITLEY - Kings Cross. Also must say that at this street you can find so many coal holes that can give a super bust to your collection as well. And let's not forget the many other features that this street have (mosaics, iron works and the lovely boot scrappers). Worthy a walk around. ...
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