Photo-survey of Stoke Newington coalhole covers

Amir Dotan

originally published on Stoke Newington History 

A few years ago, Amir Dotan noticed for the first time the decorative Victorian coalhole covers that are dotted along pavements and outside front doors of Georgian and Victorian houses across London. While he had been interested in old street furniture such as street signs for a while, he quickly became particularly fascinated by the history and designs of coalhole covers. Known in the trade as ‘Coal Plates,’ these ornate cast-iron discs, usually 12 inches in diameter, enabled the coalman to deliver coal into a house’s coal cellar through a chute without needing to enter the house. They are typically found outside the front door or on the pavement, usually in front of the gate to the house.

Amir was intrigued to find out how many different styles and designs survive in Stoke Newington, an area in North East London where he lives. As these cast iron plates are obsolete today and are disappearing as pavements are modernized and houses are renovated, he carried out a photo-survey across all the streets within the boundaries of the former Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington and discovered 100(!) different combinations of design, type (solid, venting holes, glass), and writing (name and address of foundry or ironmonger).

This is the result: