Friday, 27 May 2011

The Kings Road (1): The Coalholes

I had to make a quick trip up to town the other day and I managed to remember to take the camera with me. Not that I was out for long, just a short trip from Sloane Square tube along the Kings Road to Flood Street, but I did take the opportunity to have a quick stroll down a few side streets to see if I could spot any interesting odds and ends.

As it turns out, the side streets off the Kings Road in Chelsea have some very nice terraced houses and as few of them seem to have avoided having their pavements replaced (for the time being at least) I had a bit of a bonanza with the coalholes. One of the effects of having new pavement arriving on a fairly frequent basis seems to be that the coalhole covers themselves are removed - for scrap presumably - the holes are filled then covered and another bit of old London bites the dust. Apart from the ubiquitous Hayward Brothers there did seem to be a very local flavour to the coalhole companies represented. Take this one for example
Green & London, Chelsea, London, SW
The London Street Directory of 1921 records the business of Green & London as being situated at 121 Kings Road but apart from having an advert in the 1908 Chelsea Historical Pageant - where they also advertise their Gas & Electrical Fittings; Builders & Engineers supplies and their Brass Foundry - I can't find much more about them. 
C. L. Hacking, 259 Kings Road, Chelsea SW
The same London directory as mentioned above also lists Charles Leonard Hacking, ironmongers of 259 Kings Road ( In fact only the third of the Kings Road ironmongers hasn't yet been identified in association with a coalhole cover is Samuel Wilkinson Kerwood and he could pop up at any time!) Charles Hacking seems to have been involved with some of the local Pre-Raphaelite painters - not only doing some repairs and replacing a grate for the Carlyle's (30 shillings to them. Special price) but also creating some props for their paintings most notably the centrepiece brass lantern for William Holman Hunt's The Light of the World.
Brass lamps. A welcome change from cast-iron coalhole covers.
 In 1894 Charles Hacking was accepted as a member of the Evangelical Alliance and the following year put in the winning tender to install electric lights in the Upper Hall of  Chelsea Town Hall with a quote of £48, so he was obviously a man of many talents and of some faith as well.
A. C. Woodrow & Co., London
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?
J. W. Carpenter, 186-190 Earls Court Road, SW
Quite an interesting design here produced by J.  W. Carpenter Ltd., which reminds me somewhat of a compass design. According to Gillian Cooksey in her book "Artistry & History Underfoot" has looked into the history of the company and apparently it's still trading as the Cargo Homeshop, currently celebrating its 135th birthday!
R. R. & J. Pearson, Patent Automatic, Notting Hill Gate

The Pearson's not only seem to be significant local ironmongers, as evidenced by the number of coal-hole plates in the area, but were also engaged in speculative building projects. Sadly this doesn't always seem to have gone quite to plan every time. In 1869 R. H. Pearson (ironmonger of Notting Hill) and a Mr Tidesley (brickmerchant) appear as trustees seeking the bankruptcy of Henry Saunders (builder) of Kensington. A later appearance in the records shows that by 1893 The Statist magazine was discussing the make up of Mr Robert Henry Pearson's wealth (and the fact that he had over 200 people working for him at the time) so presumably that was the year of his death.  The business carried on though and in 1900 the British Architect magazine were reporting news of other, more domestic products, although coal hole plates were still on the menu
RH & J. Pearson, Limited, wholesale and manufacturing ironmongers, High Street, Notting Hill, W., have just issued an illustrated catalogue of their well- known specialities in close and open-fire kitchen ranges
So a significant supplier of local coal hole plates then and appearing on our posting today with what I think is a very attractive design with the seven circles with leaf cluster details.
This Durey plate is a bit of a puzzle. There were plenty about and compared to the others its fairly plain typeface and layout seems to be more modern in style. My first thought was that the plate might have been the work of a modern company of the same name, Durey , who specialise in manholes. However, according to their website they were only formed in 1975 which I would have thought was a little on the late side fro coalhole plates. So, it seems there's a bit of a mystery to end on with this one...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Ghost Signs of Bath 3 (Faded London on Tour 2010 Last Knockings)

After doing a little spring-cleaning on the image front I found a few more photos from my short trip to Bath last summer and I'm feeling an obligation to finally finish the set off. It's all a bit too easy in Bath though and, after the initial rush of excitement at stumbling across so many items in such a short space I can't say I've had the same depth of interest as in those lesser, rarer items I've found locally. It's all good stuff though and worth putting up for a look.
Hot Bath Street was the location of this particular item and there's certainly a number of layers involved! It looks as though the original road sign was painted over with one or two adverts which in turn (if the marks on the walls are anything to go by) were covered up with ivy. The top, blue layer is for Nestle's Milk  but it's obviously been placed on top of other signage so I'll have to get out the magnifying glass for this one.
It's a bit difficult to see what's going on here other than the fact that the new business has tried to obliterate its predecessor. Give it another ten years and we might be able to make it out a little easier...
Another tantalising sign that is just beyond my ability to decipher. It's obviously older than the above sign and I've a sneaking suspicion that the cleaning has been a bit haphazard  as well which doesn't help matters.
It looks at first glance to read RUSH MANUFACTORY but it's pretty clear that the initial B somehow escaped the initial clean up. There's a brush seller mentioned down this road in  in 1832 , although the street number isn't indicated. "J. D. Gorley New Bond Street and Milsom Street, Bath. Brush Maker and perfumer at the Three Cups Inn Northgate Street Bath. (New Monthly Magazine 1832) but as this is number 35 there is conveniently evidence for a brush maker called John Strawbridge living here in 1852 so it's probably safe to assume he was something to do with this particular sign.

The Hobbs in in Milsom Street also has an Italian restaurant above it but was also in days long gone a library and reading room - not the first I came across in Bath. It had quite a distinguished set of readers if this extract from the Reflections of William Jay, of Bath (1859) by Cyrus Jay is to be believed "... on reaching Bath [William Jay] would devote a few minutes in looking at the London newspapers at the public library in Milson Street.  I shall never forget when once going into the hall of the library with him observing him peeping through the glass door in all directions and his suddenly taking hold of my arm exclaiming I shall not go in for I see that Dr Hawe is sitting there You have no idea how he annoyed me yesterday when I went into the library the room being filled with ladies gentlemen admirals generals and members of Parliament. No sooner had I got hold of the Times than the doctor espied me and with his stentorian voice exclaimed 'Brother Jay that was a blessed blessed meeting that we attended last night' The company thought the doctor mad and their attention was also directed to me and as I am determined not to be annoyed in a similar way for the future I shall never enter the library again whilst the doctor's there having such an aversion to any thing approaching to cant but especially before persons who know nothing about religious matters."
On the junction of Monmouth Place and Charlotte Street is this interesting garage sign. I couldn't see if the garage was still there but the sign itself is in good condition. Apparently the Cleveland Petrols brand name finally disappeared in 1973 when the garages all became Esso so at least we can see the last possible date it was painted
And finally, although not strictly speaking a ghost sign, I couldn't help but be taken with this partially revealed glass-painted shop front. I'm also pretty sure that the current owners have left it for everyone to enjoy rather than it being a case of 'repairs in progress' or some such which was my initial thought. There's an interesting photo available of the shop as it was in 1966 which shows the signage pretty much as it currently looks. Lonelyplanet also have an image similar to mine below but sadly you can see the deterioration that has taken place over time
W.D.Lane - Abbey Dairy The only snippet I can find about the Abbey Dairy comes as a excerpt  from the The Dairy Engineer of 1936 and sadly concerns a case of mislabelling "Bath. — Before the Justices on the 6th ult., FE Barnard, trading as F. Barnard & Son, Abbey Dairy, Bath, was fined 20s., also 17s. 6d. costs, for exposing for sale milk in bottles bearing the name and mark thereon of Norton Dairies"

So that's it for Bath. All of this and more besides in just a day or so. It makes South Wimbledon look barren in comparison...