Monday, 29 December 2008

Hayward Brothers of Borough - A Potted History

When you start looking at coal-holes and light wells, it's not long before the name of Hayward starts to crop up with regularity. Other manufacturers may have a local presence but the 'Hayward Brothers of Borough' are the one company that seem to be represented throughout London. Their range of designs and the slightly differing format and versions of the company name hint enticingly at a chronology that might allow for dating of individual items so it was with this in mind that I thought I would have a look and see if I could find out a little more about the company itself.

The first avenue of enquiry was of a possible company history, the sort that tends to be produced to mark a hundred years of successful trading, and after a bit of poking about I found that Hayward Brothers had indeed published such a book entitled 'Years of Reflection 1783-1953'. At the time the only copy I could find was priced at an eye-watering £150 which was a bit more than my casual interest could afford! However, chasing up a few more links led me to a fascinating site called GlassIan This site dealt, not surprisingly, with all things glass and had a whole section devoted to the Hayward brothers, including the entire text of 'Years of Reflection'! At over a hundred pages it's not really the sort of thing you'd sit down to read in full so I thought I'd provide a Q&A summary for those of us whose interest in the company is more on the casual side...

Who exactly were the Hayward Brothers?
The brothers were William and Edward Hayward, part of a notable family of glaziers and glass-cutters, who made the move into the ironmongery trade when they bought the business of Robert Henly in 1848. Robert Henly was an iron work specialist who had also been producing coalholes amongst other items (making an R. Henly coalhole one for me to look out for!) but ill-health had led him to sell his business.

Edward Hayward
William Hayward

The address of 187 - 189 Union Street Borough often appears on the coal holes. Is this where they were made?

There are several addresses associated with the company and a couple of them appear on the coalholes. When William and Edward bought the business Henly was trading from 117 and 118 Union Street, Borough. Coincidentally the brothers had been running their own business from a cornershop on Blackfriars Road and also numbered 117, but this was abandoned in 1857 when they decided to concentrate on wholesale rather than retail. A lease was taken out from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for 187 & 189 Union Street and later on, in 1875, as business expanded
... the two houses, 191 and 193, next to 187/189, Union Street were acquired and adapted to meet the needs of manufacture.
This address also appears on coalholes and, to answer a query I have asked in previous postings regarding the setting up of foundry works, it is plain that indeed the Hayward Brothers did all their own castings on site until
"To simplify manufacture, it was arranged to form a separate company, the Southwark Foundry Company, whose functions would be to make iron castings required by Hayward Brothers and Eckstein. For this purpose, a site was purchased in Orange Street, off Union Street, adjoining the firm's premises. Here, a new foundry was built equipped with the most modern facilities and the latest types of plant. Haywards' own works, although efficient and extensive, had necessarily grown up bit by bit from the days of Glover and Henly in their single cottage. Such development lacked cohesion and the advantages of overall planning and design. These, it was determined, the new foundry should possess."
By 1921 the Borough works were proving to be too cramped yet again and a new factory was created in Enfield, but some work was still retained at the core of the Borough site, as much, it seems because of the well known link to the area as for any economic reason.

What was the link between Hayward Brothers and the Dog and Pot symbol? The statue of a dog licking out a three legged cooking pot had probably started out as a pub sign, but somehow found its way above an ironmongers shop in Blackfriars Road. It became a noted landmark associated with the ironmongery trade and seems to have been inherited by several different companies over the years as a result of mergers and purchases, one of the last being the Hayward brothers.
"Little time was lost in adapting Henly's business to their own ideas. New brooms sweep clean. The Dog's Head in the Pot premises became the offices and showrooms and the foundry in Union Street, completely re-built and modernised by Henly six years earlier, was converted to new uses. The ancient sign seems to have captivated the brothers for they immediately adopted it as their trade mark on all bill-headings and advertisements, and where appropriate on the articles they made."
The sign also appears on the coal hole covers of J. W. Cunningham of 196 Blackfriars Road, a company that in all probability inherited the original premises from the Hayward Brothers.

What is so significant about the Hayward Brothers light well?
The real fortune of Hayward Brothers came not from jobbing iron-work or coalholes, but from the development and patenting of a semi-prismatic pavement light. Impressed? Well up until the company hit the jackpot with this particular patent cellars had been one are of a house or factor that had been particularly difficult to illuminate. Open grills let in some light, but also the elements, whilst merely inserting discs of glass gave a very poor quality of light. The Hayward Brothers idea (and more importantly, patent) was to take a prism of glass and to slice it in two - hence 'semi-prismatic'. This had the effect of bending the incoming light 90 degrees so that it would throw light into the darkest corners of the cellar. For both factories and homes this was a huge improvement and opened up large new areas for exploitation at very little cost. The illustration from the book explains the principle
With this design the Brothers were able to combine their knowledge of both iron and glass to establish a real innovation and the source of much of the company's success. There were numerous designs and variations and the 1920's even saw them follow the new trend for concrete with their trademark Crete-O-Lux system which was used in much of the redevelopment of Regent Street. Coincidentally, now that the Union Street building had concreting facilities, some of the coalholes started to feature this new material as well.
Typical example of an iron-framed semi-prismatic light well used to illuminate the cellar of a small establishment. Several of these prisms have been damaged over the years which probably means the cellar is a little more gloomy than it need be!

What about the coal hole plates?
Having inherited the coal hole business from R. Henly the Hayward Brothers continued to produce them as a steady earner on the ironmongery side. I don't have a full listing of all their designs but this quote gives an idea as to the available range
Coal plates, of which there had been six types in 1865 from solid iron and ventilating to those fitted with glass lenses, had received some undesirable publicity and a greater margin of safety was urged by the highway authorities. Sixteen designs, illuminating or semi-illuminating, were included in the lists at this time. Some were fitted with a safety chain and ring, which Haywards recommended to builders and architects in preference to earlier and cheaper types.
There does seem to be a definite 'house style' and I will be doing a Hayward Brothers Retrospective to see if I can pull together some of the elements and design features developed over the years.
A late example Hayward Brothers coal plate featuring a concrete infill and bulls-eye lighting

Talking of coal-holes, there are a large number of Hayward Safety Plates around. Why was that?
Coal plates which were just discs placed over a hole could be dangerous either through slipping on them in wet or icy weather (hence the patterns of grooves and incisions), or through being left open or unfastened either in error or by children playing in the streets. The following examples were provided in Years of Reflection
"DANGEROUS COAL PLATES," The Builder published the following paragraph:
"On Monday evening, Mr. Bedford held an inquest on the body of Mrs. Sarah Flower, of 41 Guilford Street, Russell Square. The deceased was walking along Guilford Street when she slipped through a coal trap outside No. 43, the plate of which had been left unfastened. The occupier of No. 43 was called and disclaimed all knowledge of the insecurity of the plate but admitted that three-fourths of the plates in the neighborhood were unfastened. Verdict: Accidental death."
The Daily Telegraph reported an incident, which painful though it must have been to the unfortunate victim at the time, is not without humour. "Sir P. C. Owen was but just able to make his appearance, and apologise for not attending her Majesty round the interesting exhibition. This gentlemen is suffering from the effects of a street accident to which all pedestrians are daily liable. Sir Philip happened to step, a short time ago, on an unfastened iron plate over a coal-cellar, the treacherous guard slipped aside, and his leg went down the opening, with such injurious result that, though he fought against the pain for a day or two, he has been obliged to take to his couch, whence he rose yesterday to wait first upon the Queen and, at a later hour, on the Prince and Princess of Wales."
The scene of Sir Philips' mishap is not revealed but the Haywards were not blind to such reports and their effect upon business. They stated emphatically that the coal plates manufactured by them prevented such accidents, adding a long list of thirty-three famous thoroughfares in the heart of London where Haywards' coal plates were used throughout. Russell Square, where Mrs. Flower met her heath, was among them but to make it quite clear it was not one of their plates which caused her death they limited their claim to "Part Russell Square."
The Safety Plate was a lock and twist affair that prevented such unfortunate mishaps but was as much a PR exercise as anything else designed to re-assure a nervous public.

Are Hayward Brothers still in existence?
Alas, the company seems to have ceased trading in the 1970's, which co-incidentally is when the Smokeless Fuel Acts and the big switch to gas central heating probably put paid to the coal-hole business. So they were there at the start, and they were there at the end...

Bill-heading showing the company's 'Dog and Pot' logo

Friday, 26 December 2008

Modern Murals and Street Painting

Although I'm really a Ghost Signs kind of man, I can't resist taking the odd photograph of more modern examples of street art that pop up from time to time. Most are still on the advertising theme but there are the occasional community murals and even the odd work of art thrown in

Fairfield North, Kingston Upon Thames
Well the message here is pretty testosterone fuelled. Some Gothic 'Fighting Cocks' with suitable illustration topped off with the sort of lettering stencilled either on the side of WWII supply crates or on the packaging of a 1970s Action Man. A definite ghost sign of the future I reckon.
Pincott Road, Merton
You can take this one as a classic example of a civic mural. No doubt designed to impress the inhabitants of several high-rise blocks of flats that they live in the best of all possible areas, this particular tiled mural recognises Merton's contributions to the spinning and weaving industries (notably through Liberty's and the William Morris studios), the world's first publicly-funded railroad (horse drawn and not actually a passenger service), the tram system, underground railway and the film industry (Merton Park Studios was just up the road) as well as a very famous artist working on his easel (er... no, you've got me there. One of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood maybe?) all topped off with the Merton coat of arms. There's about another four of these, covering all areas of Merton's past. All very worthy but, truth be told very easy to walk by and ignore.
Borough, outside Vinopolis
This intriguing object (a power drill, soda-syphon, pasta maker, coffee-pot hybrid?) is painted on the side of the Wagamama near Borough Market. Big, bold but a bit on the fussy side for my plain and simple taste.
Hurlingham Street, Fulham
Even if they're shut there's no mistaking that this lock-up is a snow board specialist. I'm wondering if this one is just enough on the professional/gifted amateur border to have been done by a member of staff?
Soho, Central London
Pity about the deep shadow, but the sun was setting when I came across this map-mural celebrating the history and area of Soho. I've notice these sort of civic murals pop-up now and again. There's a very similar one in Sutton if I recall correctly and they're probably almost worth a section to themselves...

Battersea Rise SW19
I don't quite know why but this one cries out "'70's Community Art Project" to me. Could be the esoteric subject matter or the fact it borders a small patch of community land at a busy junction but I bet there was a grant involved somewhere! Still, better than a blank wall and nothing if not eye-catching.
Lower Marsh, Lambeth
Now this, I like. Bright, breezy and guaranteed to provide a lift even on a damp afternoon. I've no idea what the establishment is like but I'd be happy to give it a go on the basis of the artwork alone. Which is the point of doing it I suppose...

Coldharbour Place

However the Faded London award on this posting goes to this splendid rendition of 'The Great Wave Off Kanagawa' by Katsushika Hokusai but with the wave going the other way for some reason. Pretty impressive stuff and, I like to imagine, the work of a lone resident fed up with the slightly shabby surrounding streets and determined to make a bit of a splash.


Monday, 8 December 2008

Building Plaques

This collection of photos comprises mainly of interesting plaques and brickwork that pop up from time to time. They don't really fall into any easily identifiable category so they vary from one to another, from the fairly plain to the ornate
New Malden High Street
Starting with one of the less ornate, this dedicatory plaque seems to have been created with a more impressive cast list in mind. Mr Penny seems a little lost in all the space.
Garrat Lane, Wandsworth
This is typical of the plaques found on the sides of schools all over London that were commissioned and built by the London County Council. This particular example is dated 1905.
Kingston Road, Wimbledon Chase, SW19
This is the sort of brick plaque that intrigues me, with all the delicate scrolling and attention to detail. I was wondering how they were made - presumably a model would be made up a cast taken and brick dust mixed in with a binder before being poured in to obtain the detailing. I'm probably very wrong about this, but it cetainly makes an attractive addition to the side of a house
Munster Road, Fulham SW6
A similar example to the one above, only larger and designed for the front of the building rather than being tucked away on the side.
Kingston Road, South Wimbledon, SW19
Built by John Innes (he of No.2 fame) the Masonic Lodge features this attractive plaque above the front door.
High Street, Croydon
Although the new shopping centre has changed the focus of Croydon, there's still a fair bit of the Victorian Town to be seen, although it's not always easy to work out what you're looking at! For example this plaque is dated 1894 but I've no idea what the letters 'BG' stand for.
High Street, Croydon
This either represents justice (the scales and the blindfold) or it could be something relating to fair trade and merchants. Although why the boy would be blindfolded if it related to trade is beyond me...
Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
Bit of a sad and shabby example here. I'm thinking that maybe York House was a smart and prestigious house when it was first built but it's obviously seen better days.
Old Town, Clapham Common
There must be a story here! This plaque is on the side of a fairly small building (compared to its neighbours) but has an unmissable plaque on the front. It seems to be a heron standing on the back of a two-legged dragon. These two are on a set of furled flags that surmount a coat-of-arms. However the most eye catching element is the motto 'Contentment Passe Richesse' which is a quotation from a play by Moliere that refers to marriage and translates as 'Happiness Before Wealth'. How it ends up on the side of a house in Clapham is beyond me though.
Clapham Common South Side
Part of a pub that obviously used to cater for a wide clientele, I wonder how long it's been since luncheons and teas were regularly available?
off Clapham High Street
I'm not sure what building this one came off, but it was one of a series of several of similar designs. Very nice though wherever it came from.
Borough High Street
This one speaks for itself. Really attractive and eye catching stuff, especially with the gold lettering. The hop exchange is just up the road so Borough Market was obviously the centre of hop dealing in London
Westminster, W1
The Portcullis is the symbol of Wesminster and the lettering is attractive in an art-nouveau sort of way as well.
Coombe Road, New Malden
This looks like a pretty standard plaque found on the front of local telephone exchanges, in this case one laid during the reign of George VI in 1937
Braganza Street, Lambeth nr. Kennington Tube
This attractive plaque was on the side of a fairly small shop, but had been painted over, which was a pity really. A bit of damage too. I wonder if that might have been from the last war? More likely a careless workman fixinf the drainpipe or something...
Wimbledon Broadway SW19
The courts may have moved and the site now a shopping centre, but the Royal Standard is still looking down on the shoppers.
Borough Market
The BMT stands for 'Borough Market Trust' and sits above the small historic building used for runing and regulating the market.
Balham Station Road
This one is so ornate you can hardly read it! Nice one to finish on though...

Monday, 24 November 2008

Some Fulham Ghost Signs

Looking back through my collection of snapshots and unused photos I realised that I had a fair number from a couple of strolls I took over Putney Bridge into the wildlands of North London during the summer. Now I know to most people Fulham would be bordering West London, but to anyone born south of the river the real divide is north/south rather than east/west. Crossing that river, be it on foot, in car or on train is always a psychological trip to the dark side. It seems the locals are reasonably friendly though and after a while I was able to relax enough to take my camera out of its case and to start taking a few snaps. It's been a while since I was there and I may have a bit of a problem remembering exactly which road the pictures were taken in and although there were no major ghost signs in evidence there were a few tantalising glimpses of what used to be...

The Drive, Fulham Road
The Drive is a small slip road in front of a block of flats that might have been quite grand in its day. The gold paint has faded though and the sign long since ceased to be worth re-painting

Fulham Road (?)
I know, you're thinking "This one is too clean to be a ghost sign - he must be mistaken?" Well granted it is very clear but apart from the fact that the business is no longer in place, when was the last time you can remember a removals van being called a Pantechnicon? It's one of those words which is crying out for a check on its origins so here goes. From the Wikipedia comes the following explanation
Pantechnicon has become the generic name for vehicles specially designed and constructed to transport furniture, except where "moving van" is usual. This is derived from a building of that name in Motcombe Street, Belgravia, London. The Seth Smith brothers, originally from Wiltshire, were builders in the early 19th century and constructed much of the new housing in Belgravia, then a country area. Their clients required storage facilities and this was built with a Greek style Doric column fa├žade, and called Pantechnicon, Greek for "pertaining to all the arts or crafts". Subsequently special wagons were designed with sloping ramps to more easily load furniture with the building name on the side. The Pantechnicon Ltd, a furniture storage and removal company continued to trade until the 1970s. The building still exists as an antique shop.
Parsons Green
This one is so frustrating. It faces a railway line so is a prime site for advertising and it is obvious that the current inhabitants quite like being superimposed on previous signage, but I feel like I'm trying to read this one twenty years too late. Although there are loads of layers of advertising here, it makes it almost impossible to make out more than a few letters at a time. Best of luck if you can make anything out...

Maybe the top lettering might be easier to read? Maybe not...Draycott Mews, New Kings Road
Now bisected by a modern gate this alleyway once led to a printers. Sadly it's now impossible to make out who they were other than the fact they started "W. BR...". You can still see some lettering on the other side of the bars but not enough to make out the name.

New Kings Road (?)
Last ghost sign on my little perambulation. This one was on the side of a house facing the street and seems partially obscured by what I assume was a later building. It's obviously for a builders merchant as it's offering bricks and sand amongst other items. Pity the white paint is obscuring most of it, but that's the way it goes.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Barons Court 3: The Miscellany

I wouldn't want you to think that the streets around the 'Curtain's Up' pub were just populated with boot-scrapers and coal-holes. There were a few other items that caught my eye that I feel I should add to give a more rounded feel to the area.

Vereker Road Looks like someone took the instruction to 'Press' a little too literally
Perham Road The end of Perham Road curves behind some of the terraced houses into a short dead-end that I suspect used to have some service yard like a milk depot, stables or a coal yard. As it curved there was probably less incentive to build the standard houses and some small plots seem to have been purchased for more individual and esoteric buildings. The stained glass fan light below came from above the front door of one of these and to my uneducated eye has a look of the Arts & Crafts movement about it. There were a series of these, at least three or four, and I wish I'd taken a photo of each now. I've a feeling they were named after individuals, even though this one does seem at first glance to fall into the 'Dunroamin' school of house names.
Barons Court Road A nicely painted pillar that for some reason stopped short of repainting the number. I'm sure there must have been a reason for leaving it but I'm struggling to think what it could be...
Barons Court Road What an attractive basement light this one is - the squares are almost opaque but the banding between isn't the common metal or concrete, but what seems to be white tile-work, giving it a very strong and vibrant presence.
Perham Road Fancy coming home to this every evening... To my mind a very attractive and elegant mosaic and one of a series along the road.
Perham Road Unless my memory is playing tricks I believe this is the mosaic outside The Studio featured below
Perham Road Tucked away in in the corner is this interesting little building dated 1899. A quick google for 'The Studio' + Perham Road came up with (apart from loads of studio flats to rent) a link to the manuscript library at the University of Glasgow and the following entry
Letter from Alfred Lys Baldry to James McNeill Whistler. 1, Perham Crescent, Perham Road, West Kensington, W., March 21st 98. 'Dear Mr. Whistler' Asks permission to reproduce some of Whistler's recent work, 'pictures or drawings.', in the spring number of the Studio. Will send Gray to photograph what Whistler chooses. 'Very truly yours A. L. Baldry'. [As the spring number of the Studio contains no photographs of W's work, one assumes that W did not comply with the request]
Although this was dated 1898 I think it a safe bet to assume Whistler was working in The Studio before giving it a bit of a face-lift the following year and might also explain some of the more artistic flourishes (and names?) of the houses nearby. No plaques or markers that I could see though to give a clue as to it's illustrious former inhabitant

One last thought from the Wikipedia entry on James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Whistler founded an art school in 1898, but his poor health and infrequent appearances led to its closure in 1901. He died in London on July 17, 1903
Could The Studio have been the site of this ill-fated art school?

Even if it wasn't the last three entries are all the result of a quick stroll down four streets and as a way of killing twenty minutes I think that Barons Court has done us proud.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Barons Court 2: The Coal-holes

Part two of our wanderings around Barons Court reveals large numbers of coal-hole covers and a number of new manufacturers to add to the list. Some striking designs too, such as...

A. D. Woodrow & Co. - Engineers, London
Very simple design of concentric circles but quite striking too. My first thought was that this is the ideal coal-hole cover to use for a game of marbles. A new producer though, so very welcome.
James Paynell; Chapel Stall, Edgeware Road
Tricky one to read this, mainly due to the wear and the wet conditions. It's an interesting design and unusual in as much as the central motif is quite amorphous or 'blobby' rather than well-defined and mathematical. As a reader remarked in the Comments section, this is apparently more due to wear and tear rather than design. It'll be interesting to find a better example to compare.
Unknown Manufacturer:
Could just be the way my mind works but there seems to be a hint of the Minoan about this one. Another intriguing one for a game of marbles. First to the centre of the labyrinth?
Unknown Manufacturer
What's going on here though? It seems to be the same design as the example above but with a central groove added across the central section. It's not clear why but I can only imagine it might have been intended either as a space for a name or possibly to aid the coal-man remove the lid in some way?

Vine Morrison & Coy.; Earls Court Road SW
Is this where Irish songster Van Morrison pinched his name? Vine Morrison is a new one on me but with an attractive geometric design this one could be described as 'nice and tidy' with some attractive, solid lettering.
Unknown Manufacturer
So different to the 'modernist', geometric approach of those other 'Unknowns' above, this is all Victoriana and Church Stained glass. Very striking to see though.
Unknown Manufacturer
This one struck me as being very similar to the example above and indeed, after exhaustive use of high-tec comparison and photo-mapping I can reveal that it is, indeed, exactly the same design. The effect of the extra wear on the second does make you think twice though.
Froy & Son; Hammersmith
The Froy name still seems to be about, albeit in kitchen design rather than ironmongery but there is still a definite link to follow. I might well do a 'Froy special ' if I can get some history about the firm, especially in it's early days. Compare the lettering on this one to that of Vine Morrison above. In comparison Froy's comes across as a bit reserved.
Hayward Brothers: 187-189 Union Street Boro.
The ubiquitous Hayward Brothers are here of course. This looks like an earlier version that hardly seems worn at all.
Green & London; Walham Green (various designs)
Similar design to that above but a bit more compact and punchy to my way of thinking. Presumably the holes were to let in some light.
This one is very similar, but if you look carefully then you can see the slight stylistic differences, most notably lack of light holes and small chevrons between the circles. Same basic design though.
Again at first glance this looks the same but differences in the positioning of the letters around the rim show that it was probably from a different production run. Green & London seem to have been perfectly happy with their basic design though
Unknown Manufacturer
No idea who made it but it's quite nice in it's understated way. No chance of slipping on this one.
There were some other pieces around Barons Court, including some nice fan-light stained glass I could have recorded, but I couldn't miss the magic show so scurried off for an afternoon of cards and illusion! A very enjoyable and informative afternoon all round.