Earlier in the year I spent some weeks in the summer researching and writing a survey of the links between Cornwall and South Wales, particularly those evidenced in the metal industries of copper, iron and steel, and tin.
It resulted in a wonderfully illustrated book called Graham Sutherland: From Darkness Into Light. War Paintings and Drawings, co-authored with Sally Moss and Paul Gough, and published by Sansom and Company.
Have you ever looked down when you’re walking about outside (do you walk about much)? We’re often encouraged to look up when we’re in the middle of towns and cities to admire the architecture of urbanisation above the modern, slightly jarring, signage of our high street shops.
But do you look down?
Local foundries made street ironmongery – that’s stuff like manhole covers, gutter grills, bollards, lamp-posts and railings. Here in Cornwall foundries were better known for building gigantic pumping and winding engines for the mining industry. Names like Harvey and Holman are household names, still.
Some of their iron and steel founding can be seen in our towns even though many have been replaced with less distinctive metalwork.
So next time you are out and about, take a look down, check out where that hydrant cover was made and by whom. I’m going to start collecting photographs of Cornish street ironmongery. If you want to add your own, just leave a comment or link us to your own images.
Gutter grill by N. Holman and Sons Ltd, Penzance (Belgravia Street, Penzance)
Hydrant cover by W. Visick and Sons Ltd, Devoran (The Greenmarket/Chapel Street, Penzance)
Detail of maker’s mark, Holman and Sons Ltd, St Just
Manhole cover by N. Holman and Sons Ltd, St Just (Chapel Street, Penzance)
Lamp-post by N. Holman, Makers, Penzance (Market Jew Street, Penzance)
Last week I was in Truro which turned out to be a real find for Cornish ironwork. This gallery traces my route from Old County Hall to Truro Cathedral. Avondale Road was most interesting, the site of ironmongery from four different Cornish foundries.
Gutter grill by Oatey and Martyn of Wadebridge (Old County Hall, Truro). There are at least four examples on the site.
Manhole cover by Harvey (Fire station, Old County Hall, Truro).
The mark of Harvey on a manhole cover, outside fire station Old County Hall, Truro.
Distinctive pavement drain by W. Visick and Sons, Devoran (Avondale Road, Truro).
The mark of W. Visick and Sons Devoran on a pavement train, Avondale Road, Truro.
The worn mark of F. Bartle and Sons, Carn Brea on a pavement drain, Avondale Road, Truro.
Pavement drain by F. Bartle and Sons, Carn Brea (Avondale Road, Truro).
The mark of W. Sara and Sons, Redruth on pavement drain, Avondale Road, Truro.
Pavement drain by W. Sara and Sons, Redruth (Avondale Road, Truro).
The mark of foundry Harris and Polmear, Truro.
Avondale Road, Truro, site of ironmongery from four different Cornish foundries.
The well-worn mark of local Truro foundry F. Dingey.
Double manhole cover by F. Dingey Truro Foundry, Ferris Town, Truro.
Iron pavement drains, Little Castle Street, Truro.
Pavement drain by F. Dingey Truro Foundry, Little Castle Street, Truro.
F. Dingey Truro Foundry mark on a pavement drain.
Meter cover, Truro Water Co. River Street, Truro (opposite Royal Cornwall Museum).
Manhole covers and gutter grill at High Cross, Truro Cathedral.
Manhole cover by Harris and Polmear, Truro on High Cross, Truro (next to the Cathedral).
Culvert cover by Radmore and Dart Truro Foundry, opposite Truro Cathedral at King Street.
Culvert cover by W. Visick and Sons Ltd Engineers, Devoran, opposite Truro Cathedral at King Street.
Newlyn and Mousehole
Some additions from Newlyn and Mousehole, including an unusual triangular manhole cover. All made by local founders N. Holman, St Just.