Friday, 17 October 2008

Of Drains and Stink-Pipes

Put a peg on your nose if you must, but it's about time we tackled the emotive world of the "Main Drain Stink Pipe"... Well that certainly seems to be how they are referred to in general conversation. Not that the subject comes up much though and to be honest I've a feeling it's a bit of a misnomer. After all could it really be possible that the manufacturers of London's sewage system would build in, at regular intervals, outlet pipes to waft the sickly -sweet hints of sewage across the neighbourhood? I doubt it. Actually, I believe that they were installed almost as 'safety valves' to prevent any dangerous increase in air pressure in sections of the tunnel. Although there seems to be pretty much a standard design, the ones I've found do have interesting variations

Let's start with the first one I spotted

Merton Road, Wimbledon
As proof of how innocuous these pipes can be I had walked past this several times before I suddenly noticed it. I was taken by its relatively ornate design when, let's be honest, a straight pipe would have done just as well. Yet there it is - a hint of Victorian over-design nestling quite happily in its modern setting.
Although there are some cracks in the iron these days, you can see how the Victorians felt thatn even a basic pipe would benefit from a little ornamentation. Southey Road, South Wimbledon
Not too far away from my first spotting (and possibly even on the same main drain?) is my favourite stink-pipe. Two for the price of one, this unit was adapted to take an early electric light. Now very much defunct, I believe this design would date back to the early years of the last century, with the small pices of mirror reflecting the light back on the assers-by below
Not much left of the mosaic of mirrored glass these days...The ivy's starting to take a hold around the 'collar' area but a plastic id tag is still is the still ring of spikes designed to deter any would-be lightbulb thief!

Lambton Road, Raynes Park
This seems to be of the same design as the one on Merton Road, but what I like here is the fact that the paint-job only goes half-way up. Could it be that the painter wasn't allowed to go any higher due to Health & Safety regulations about streatching too far above your head?

Vicarage Road, Hampton Wick
This beauty looks as though it should either have a flame coming out of the top, like some strange lantern, or lots of Victorian children tying ropes to the top. It really does seem an evocative object and I've no idea what either the spurs were for... ...or the basket -effect near the top. A subtle dispersal of faint aromas possibly?Still there's a nice bit of cast-iron scroll-work near the bottom and that'll do me.Garrat Lane, Wandsworth.
Here's a whopper! Tucked behind an advertising hoarding I couldn't see the base of this one, but it was by far the tallest I'd seen. Looks a goody though...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Dodgy Van Sign

I know this isn't strictly speaking within the usual remit of Faded London but I couldn't help recording this striking example of van signage. Now it could be just a unfortunate coincidence or it could be a cunning example of reverse psychology but am I the only one to do a double take when first seeing this?It reminds me of the sniggering that greeted the London 2012 Olympic Logo and the suggestions that it reminded people of Lisa Simpson in a compromising situation. OK, this might not be in the same league but I wonder if everyone responsible for designing the new company logo stood back to admire it, realised what they'd done, muttered it under their breath... and decided to keep very, very quiet.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

A Lot of Old Bollards

Bollards aren't what they used to be. I can remember one in an alley down the side of my Grandparent's shop in Battersea that was an old cannon with an oversized cannon ball stuffed down the barrel and you could find similar examples of municipal re-cycling all over London. As years have gone by there's been more and more homogenization of street furniture and bollards for the most part, look pretty bland. There's still the odd one or two of interest though including some of those shown here

Putney High Street
A large number of modern, fairly bland an inoffensive bollards line the High Street. The point of interest here lies in the colour they are all painted -the colours of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Putney Bridge is the starting point of the annual University Boat Race which might not be quite up there with the nearby Wimbledon Tennis Championship, but is still obviously making a fuss about (if painting your bollards two-tone blue can really count as 'making a fuss')
Roehampton High Street
This is a 'proper' village-like High Street, now little more than a backwater, but this solid and rather attractive bollard looks as though it's been around for quite a while.
Spring Passage, Putney
Ha! What's this? Same bollard, different location and this one looks as though it's not buried quite as deeply as its Roehampton cousin
The Strand, Central London
No idea as to age, but it's suitably ornate and solid for a prime 'prestige' tourist location. Westminster seem to go rather for the ornate, which is no bad thing in my book.
Westminster, Central London
This seems to be the 'bog standard' Westminster design. There were certainly enough of them around. Quite distinctive and not at all unattractive I feel.
Borough Market, London Bridge
All on its own by a passageway under the railway bridge, again this is one that could have been here for a while. I'm not too sure abouth the dated plaque though. I doubt that it's been here since 1813!
Albert Road, Kingston-on-Thames
It looks pretty plain and modern, but it was standing all alone without an obvious job to do and the wall and fence had been built around it. was the 'Chelsea' embossed on the top. Is it a bollard though, or have I come across a new sub-species?

Station Road, Morden
Classic in its design, sturdy no-nonsense stuff on a riverside location and with quite a nice logo.
Medfield Street, Roehampton
This elegant beast is located at the other end of the passage from where the other Roehampton bollard is located, but they are totally different in design. This has a definite air of Victorian design about it, octagonal stem, scroll-work, loads of gratuitous knobbles and a nice bit of patina and wear.
Blackshaw Road, Tooting
My personal favourites - five very quirky and unusual bollards near St George's Hospital
Not sure what's going on with the design here - It reminds me of a row of lolly sticks with a few bulges. And why does the middle one not have a round top like the others?
The maker seems to be 'Thomas Perry' although the paintwork looks as though it could do with a touch-up. Better not mention it to the local council though as they'd probably whip them out and replace them with some concrete ones...
Winchester Walk, Borough
Could this be it? This bollard is actually embedded into the side of this building and I'm wondering if underneath all that paint and rust... could this possibly be an old cannon? Probably not but it certainly looks the part.
As does its companion just a few feet away. Hmmm... the ball is definitely in a depression there, but I'm still not 100% convinced.