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10 September 2023

More manholes with woodblock infills, hiding in plain view on London's main roads

This latest collection of manhole covers with remnants of wood blocks within them are specifically grouped together because they are all on streets I know well, so it's surprising it's taken me decades to notice them. 

First, here is an excellent example in Holloway Road, ten minutes' walk from my home. I often lead guided tours here pointing out all the hints of late Victorian history when the street was often referred to as The Oxford Street of the North. Yet, although I often mention trams and old forms of transport, I hadn't actually spotted this fabulous example of wood blocks in the middle of the road. It can be found between The Coronet/Waitrose and Holloway tube station, slap bang in the middle of the road. Basically, I have been walking past it about three times a week for thirty years (doh!):

It's the second Holloway one I have discovered (see first entry in here) and, convinced that there surely must be more in the vicinity, I am now often to be seen scouring the road like a demented idiot who has lost something.  

Next, to Kentish Town. This is a short walk from Holloway and an area I also thought I knew well as regards little details etc, yet, although I'd found one wood-filled manhole cover by a yellow line in the southern end of this street, this one, almost opposite Islip Street, had eluded me until someone messaged me about it:

On Pentonville Road, outside Joseph Grimaldi Park, there is another one. I'd previously glimpsed it from the top deck of a number 73 bus, as this is what I do from buses now; I play a new game I have invented: Manholehunter. On the day I went to photograph this one, the street was extremely trafficated, as a friend used to say (and I like it) so I had to stop the slow-moving cars to be able to stand over it and get a decent shot. The driver of one car looked at me very quizzically then parked round the corner to come back and see what I was so interested in. He chatted for a while, and I told him to look up Jane's London but I haven't heard from him since. Perhaps he's reading this now. I hope so! Due to the traffic that day I am here accompanying my photo with a street view pic from Google (the name of the road isn't actually painted on the Tarmac!):

And so to Clerkenwell Rd. I wrote before about a fine example at the end of Leather Lane. Well, I'm sorry to report that since that stretch of road was resurfaced, it has completely gone. But, on the bright side, I found another one a little further east, almost at the junction of Hatton Garden, by the zebra crossing. At first glance it looks like it's all tarmac-filled. But that's not the case – the tarmac has eroded around the edges, and little glimpses of wood can be seen, though that might not be immediately evident here:

And finally (for this blog post only as there are sure to be more!), this next one is just south of Angel Islington, on the west side of St John Street by the pedestrian crossing, just before the junction with Rosebery Ave and Sadlers Wells:

See you with more of these soon, no doubt.

For the full list of all my sightings thus far, please click here. Do let me know if you find any more. 

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Thanks, Jane