Monthly Archives: August 2011

.’. London’s Coal holes .’.

On the pavements outside well-off Victorian houses you often find theses round metal shapes – they are covering holes, trought which Victorian households had their coal delivered.

Victorian families in this area burnt coal in fires to heat their houses and ovens (it was before central heating!). Rather than dragging dirty coal sacks through people’s homes, the coalmen used to drop it from their horse-drawn carts through this hatch straight into the cellar.

Scullery maids would the move the coal from the cellar to the fires and clean the house of all the dust created by burning coal (a very hard job!)

The hatch is typically about 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 cm) in diameter and consists of a cast iron ring set into the pavement, with a circular cover, often made of cast iron alone but sometimes containing concrete or glass panes or small ventilation holes. There are three main reasons for the circular shape of the coal hole plate: a circular disc can not accidentally fall through its own hole (unlike a square or rectangular one); its weight means that it can be rolled rather than carried or lifted; and the absence of corners allows for a reduced risk of damage to it. Hatches have an internal latch that prevents the cover being lifted from the outside. On some streets there are a variety of types of cover reflecting the fact that the coal holes were installed at different times by different builders after the houses were built.

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.’. Somerset House Fountains .’.

The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court is at the heart of Somerset House – a dignified courtyard with a mischievous streak.

The array of jets dance in an orchestrated sequence, with added coloured lighting at night – a refreshing surprise on a warm summer day.

The fountains are normally switched on for spring and summer months, except when events take place in the courtyard which require them to be off; during Xmas time the space is taken by an amazing Ice Ring.

To be honest nothing really matters, if you are near Somerset House during the Summer do this: Take your shoes off and run around the fountains…you will never be the same. Run like when you were a kid and nothing matter, run like crazy, run and get wet and laugh loud.

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.’. Victoria Square .’.

Between Buckingham Palace Road and Lower Grosvenor Place is this cute place called “Victoria Square”.

Victoria Square was built in 1839 and named after the new queen. Victoria was only 18 when she became queen and there is a statue in the square (mde in 2007) of her at the start of her reign, wearing typical fashions from the time.

Despite recent renovations, Victoria Square includes some Victorias features: Coal holes, tiled doorsteps, boot scraper and cast-iron railings. Originally railings were painted in different colours, but many were painted black following the death of Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband in 1861. The houses are typical Victorians layout – the servant’s quarters would have been in the attic and the kitchen in the basement, with the families’ rooms in between.

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