Monday, 6 August 2018

So what is the story behind the coal hole covers in Chorlton?

Now I know someone will have written a book on those metal covers which once gave access to the coal cellar.

William Smith's best
That said I bet it will be a pretty niche read more so because over the years so many have been lost.

I should know, ours was long ago taken away and the hole bricked up.

Which is a shame given that ours was square and not the conventional round one.  I have had thoughts of restoring the coal cellar but have met stiff resistance, so for the time being I can only guess at our neighbours and wish.

All of which is an introduction to the new series on coal cellar covers.

I have long been fascinated by the different designs on what is basically just a round lump of metal, and yesterday while on Wilbraham Road it caught my fancy to photograph the remaining few which adorn the outside of Highfield.

Highfield, circa 1930s
And for those who puzzle exactly where we are, Highfield is the strip of shops that runs from Keppel to Albany.

There is one fine example of a cover which still bears the name W. Smith & Co, who were ironmongers in Pendleton with works on Broad Street, Brindle Street and Frank Street.

I have found them in the directory for 1911 and in the fullness of time will I will try and research their story.

The cover without a name
What is rather remarkable that of the ones that have survived, they all do have different designs.  Sadly there are only three which are passable, with two more partially covered with cement, and the remaining ones have vanished.

All of which just leaves one little mystery and that is the location of the coal holes.

Today they are where you would expect them to be outside the shop fronts but when the properties were first built the shops didn’t exist.

They were additions which replaced the long gardens running down to the pavement.

A different design
And the nerd in me has wondered where the original coal holes were located.

I assume that they would have been in front of the house, but if they were where they are now, that either suggests the gardens were built over the cellars, or new ones were dug when the shops were built.

At which point a few will mutter what does it matter?

But I think it does, the question is will we ever track down the plans of the alterations, and there I hold out little hope.

Almost gone
Location; Wilbraham Road

Pictures; coal hole covers on Wilbraham Road, 2018, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

1 comment:

  1. When I lived in Brundretts Road we had coal delivered via the coal hole in front of the front door. The coal cellar was in the cellar (of course) at the borrow of the cellar steps and I used the coal in the attic rooms as the downstairs rooms had central heating.