Friday, March 1, 2013

Coal Holes 2

Following up on my post from two days ago, here are a few more beguiling coal holes from the sidewalks of Notting Hill...

One of my British blog pals posted this comment on my previous entry about coal holes:

"In 1950s Lancashire we had gratings at pavement level above our coal cellars. A popular scam was to knock on a door, crying about losing half-a-crown down through the grid, wailing about how it was dad's beer money and so a beating would ensue if not returned. A fruitless search would reveal no coin in the basement coal hole. Gullible householders would lend the young con artist the money to stop the commotion!"

And as promised, here are four more of the public art project coal holes from 2004, in which local writers penned text for an artful coal hole cover.

Margaret Drabble's coal hole is in front of the Notting Hill Coronet movie theater, where Dave and I often go: "Behold the glittering Coronet of diamonds, tears and dreams."

Sebastian Faulks' coal hole takes sides in a rivalry between Notting Hill Gate and Shepherd's Bush:

"A word in your eye, don't worry or push
A step in the Gate is worth two in the Bush"

Hugh Thomas speaks of local history:

"This district once boasted
A race-course & it retains
Something of the dashing
Classless, devil-may-care, yes,
Racy sense of the turf."

And finally, mystery writer P.D. James takes us even further back in time, with a coal hole near the Daunt Books shop:

"Notting Hill, that vigorous, creative and diverse London village beneath whose pavements the Roman legions marched westward from Londinium."

There's allegedly one more coal hole in this project, by writer Colin Thubron, but I'll be darned if I could find it. I looked all around where it's supposed to be according to this map. I may have just missed it, but I suspect it's been removed.


  1. those coal holes with poetry are truly public art. thanks for sharing them! that would be a great idea to export to nyc. how it would lift the spirit to look down and see poetry and art at one's feet.

  2. Very cool. Have you found any yet that have glass lens? These were used to let in sunlight to illuminate the coal bins, since having a lit lantern in a coal bin was a fire risk.

    You can see some lovely examples here. Supposedly there are some of these in Boston, but I've never seen one. I guess I should look down more often!

  3. So interesting! It would seem that no one managed to get a patent on these since they all seem to be made by different manufacturers.

    I bet you had fun chasing these down from that map! Kept you busy. I'm glad you weren't looking down the whole time or you might have stumbled and ended up in a cast. :)

  4. Really enjoyed looking at these! Thanks for enlightening me!