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


Jane said...

Blimey, you have been busy!
This is brilliant.
Although I have already listed you as a London link on my blog I am also going to add this posting as a direct link within all my coal hole posts.
I wonder if Haywards were only the main guys south of the river? I say this because there are lots of Aston plates in North London. And I have just looked my whole coal hole collection and listed 36 different manufacturers/suppliers' names. This does not include the ones I cannot decipher! My favourite name so far is A. Smellie of Westmnster. You couldn't make it up!
I was actually thinking of doing a comparison collection on similar coal hole designs that have differing words and/or companies on them. So look out for that.
Here's to a great new year,
P.S. Have you noticed that the more you read or write the word 'coal', the more wrong it looks?!

Yelfy said...

Hi Jane
Well I couldn't resist a bit of a poke around the archives and I think I hit the jackpot with the information available on Haywards! Astons sounds one to have a look at as well as I don't think I've bagged one of those yet (although I do have a few I've not published yet to add to my list so I may be a little premature on that one)As far as I am aware, Hayward Bros were not only national (with regional offices as far away as Glasgow) but were also international with representation in places as far away as Argentina! They were certainly well represented north of the river and I would suspect that that would be the source of much of their business (being the bulk of the Metropolis) but of course other local companies would be making a showing. What intrigues me now is the question of how many of those smaller local companies contracted Hayward Bros or their competitors to do the iron work for them? There must have been loads of small local ironmongers for whom casting their own plates would have been uneconomic and with their own foundry available it might make good economic sense to do small runs for local companies. Worth looking into though, as are Aston's...
I liked your Christmas card and your range and quality of photos are, as usual, very impressive. Keep up the quality for 2009! By the way, you might be interested in a new blog I've bookmarked of a couple recording international manhole covers. All good stuffand interesting to see designs from other countries. All the best for you and yours.

Jane said...

Yes, being as some plates are basically the same, but with different names or holes drilled into them, it did cross my mind that one company/foundry was providing the basic design and then they were being customised to suit.
It's worth looking into.
I only noticed last night that my local pub in N7 has a Haywards plate outside.
(My friend from Hull pronounces them "curl hurls".)

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to snap this Dog & Pot opercula in Stockwell before it dissapeared

Unknown said...

Hi, I have observed that Brighton and Hove have many good examples of coal hole covers some made by local Sussex firms and others from London.

The best area I have discovered so far to go coal hole spotting is near Hove Town Hall down the pavements of Third and Fourth avenues (full of Victorian villa type buildings). Most of the covers were made by Hayward Brothers including those stamped ' No 2B March 15th 1854' to the Hayward self locking B14 types. I counted up to 40 coal holes in that area. Yes, it might sound weird to be excited by these bits of iron and glass but when you are pushing a pram buggy its a fantastic way to make a game for toddlers! So it was great to find Faded London and discover more about this firm. I can now trip over a light well at the end of my street and mutter "that's a Haywards".

The fame of coal holes has even reached the music industry. Have you seen the latest Madness album 'The Liberty of Norton Folgate' ? It features on the top of the CD a coal hole cover - similar to a Hayward Brothers design?

Anonymous said...

But what about their SPIRAL STAIRCASES? Our Victorian terrace hose has one installed. Looks lovely but difficult to get furniture up and down stairs. The hose used to be an antique shop nd the owner bought the staircase through the trade ad with the help of his neighbours assembled it (its made in sections held together and in place by a central column) and put it in place. It's cast iron of course and has HAYWARD BROTHERS STREET (not stated) BROUGH LONDON cast into the top tread.

Has anybody else seen or got one?


Yelfy said...

Hi Bill
I had a quick look through their firm's history 'Years of Reflection' on GlassIan's site (see the link in the posting) it does actually mention spiral staircases briefly on page 45 "Ornamental air bricks, plain iron or galvanised, ranging from 6d. to 5s. each, were also engaging the attention of the brothers. Circular iron staircases with the tread, riser and spandril in one were made in five diameters from 3½ feet to 4½ feet. Straight iron staircases and other iron work, such as pilasters, columns and balconies also came within the scope of the firm's output."
And to top it all a picture on page 64 although I believe this is of later vintage. I hope yours is as ornate!

Bison said...

I photographed this today towards the far end of Tynemouth pier (The colours are exaggerated by some tweaking of curves in PaintShop, but were there as a result of corrosion/tarnishing). No idea what lies beneath...

michaela said...

i have a haywards spiral staircase in my house , rises about 4 and 1/2 feet from 2nd to 3rd floor , are these rare ? i know it was purchased in london in 1983

DD said...

Spotted an odd (to me, anyway) little Haywards iron cover in Llanfairfechan, North Wales, today. Most of the shops in one street had a pair of these iron covers in front of the recessed doorway. I'm guessing that they were for some sort of removable gate to be fitted to prevent undersirables hanging around/sleeping in the shop doorway at night.

Pic here:

edwardajames said...

Thank you for your brilliant posts on Hayward Brothers. They're both very interesting and informative. I am an industrial archaeologist, so I am interested in this sort of thing anyway, but Haywards have a special interest because both my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather worked for them. I believe that my Great-Grandfather was the foreman in charge of the iron working section of the Enfield works, and my Grandfather worked up to be the foreman in charge of the concrete manufacturing side.

As for spiral staircases, Finsbury Park spiral staircase is one of theirs too!

Andrew Coleman said...

This is a great piece of detective work - thanks. I've summarised it on my blog:
I'm aiming for a photo of each different design in Brighton and Hove.

Bert said...

There is a Haywards Brothers coalhole cover in Bold Street, Warrington. It has a pattern of six sets of seven small holes. The seven holes are arranged as a hexagon with a hole in the centre.

Unknown said...

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Unknown said...

As a fellow foundryman like the Haywood Brothers i found this blog fascinating. I look after Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax, West Yorkshire and these days we get asked a lot about pavement lights and particular those made by the Haywood Brothers.

To provide further information on the manufacture of these castings we have put the blog posting on our web site that you might find interesting -

Allotment Man said...

I am removing over 100 years of paint from an iron Haywood vent grill recently removed from our village school. It will be reused as the front of a bug box and hung in therror school playground.

Frampers said...

I have just visited the Civic Centre clock tower in Southampton. Inside are numerous spiral staircases made by Haywards LTD of Borough.

mike yeats said...

I have a blog on cast Iron utility covers, I recently posted one on a Haywards light well I have seen in Plymouth, do you mind if I add your excellent article on the company to add information to it.
kind regards

Unknown said...


I found your page as I was looking up Hayward Bros. My father lived around the corner from Union St in Red Cross Way and a cousin of mine noticed there is one of their manhole covers outside her flat in Worthing dated March 1854. I can send you a photo if you are interested.


Unknown said...

Just stumbled on this fascinating blog. Thank you. Here is a link to the Aston of Essex Road London N1 coal hole covers.

Sharyn Farnaby said...

I am a tour guide in Exeter and we visit and mention a Hayward Brothers prismatic coal hole cover on one of our tours. I looked up the address on the cover as I used to know the area around Borough quite well. A lot of our iron mongery is from local founders Garton & King and their manhole and drain covers are found all over the country too. Thanks for your detailed information.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather worked at Hayward Brothers as a clerk after WWI. I think he was employed as part of an scheme for invalid soldiers because he was gassed in the trenches in France. I remember my father telling the story. As a child in the 1960's when visiting Windsor Castle my father pointed out a clock in the pavement covered with glass about half way up the hill on the opposite side of the road to the castle - he said 'your grandfather put that there'. The clock was about 12 to 18 inches across and typical Hayward work. The clock is sadly long gone (or just covered over?). My family all smoked and I remember several of the glass pavement prisms being used as ashtrays around the house balanced on arms of chairs in reach of casual cigarette ash flicks - they were ideal when turned upside down. I don't have them now though. They were solid and heavy with a tint of green and a seam that ran around the middle.

Unknown said...

An original feature from 1914, the cast iron spiral staircase at Leiston Film Theatre (Suffolk's oldest cinema) is still used and is, other than a vertical fire escape, the only way to access the first floor! The staircase cost £15 in 1914 and features the wording ‘Hayward Brothers Union Street Borough London’ engraved into the final step.

Jemmy H said...

A 'Hayward Brothers' Coal-Hole, in Coopers Row, Wigan.

Unknown said...

I have a Hayward glass floor window 9 squares by 3 I'm in Scottish Borders just trying find where it may of been

Anonymous said...

There is a circular stairwell, in a small quaint town in South Africa - Matjiesfontein that was made by Hayward Brothers! It is beautiful and in one of the shops adjacent to the Hotel. Hayward Brothers have a lot of family in South Africa, a branch of one of James Hayward’s grandsons family - my grandfather Rex Scott-Hayward. When I lived in London in the late 70’s and early 80’s I often noticed the grates/grating with the Hayward engravings. Fiona

Unknown said...

Whilst clearing out my parents house recently I found a hayward brothers 21 inch cast iron coal plate, I wonder if you can tell me if it has any worth, thanks

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Anonymous said...

Lots of Hayward pavement lights and a few coal hole covers in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. This includes one of the safety ones. Many thanks for all the information.

Unknown said...

Yes I have one that was removed from st Mary's Catholic church dandenong / Melbourne Australia.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Would they have made Safes? I am at Portland House, a National Trust Property in Dorset and am wondering about an iron door which has their stamp on it. I think it could have been a safe but unsure.

Unknown said...

Hello fellow bloggers,

I am the owner of A company called New Age Glass Ltd and we have trademarked the Hayward Brothers name and started producing new and refurbishing old cast iron pavement lights, we also have the original prism lenses also for glazing. Check out our website at for more information.


Marc Parkinson

Anonymous said...

I have a coal hole plate. the concrete has fallen apart. any advice on how to repair? anyone does this in London? Fulham?