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Further to my June 3rd post about the European Heritage Days awards I'm excited and delighted to be one of the overall 2020 winners! Eleven storytellers from across the continent have won a funde

Hello All, I'm delighted to say that I have been shortlisted for European Heritage Storyteller of the Year for 'Drainspotting'. The link here is the just published submission which formed the final pa

Coupe Brothers, Carting contractors, builders merchants & brick manufacturers 19 Carlisle Street East (1919-1925)

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I know this isn't in Sheffield but to import from 3,000 miles away and set in the pavement in Monaghan town in Ireland is beyond belief, why not buy from our Iron works?

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Saw some 1897 dated drain covers at the bottom of Backfields today. Is it wrong that I got a bit excited?

I'll see your 1897 and raise you a Sheffield Corporation 1896!

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I think I may be able to answer this one! It's possible that cast iron was imported from America to Ireland because it was good ballast for ships which would otherwise have been returning empty to the UK. A ship doing a route such as Liverpool - Belfast - New York would normally have been full of British produced goods on the outward journey, but may have returned empty or at least carrying goods of little weight. As all cargo ships need balast when empty, it's likely they would have been seeking a return load of something with some weight, such as cast iron, which probably got carried for minimal cost. On arrival back at Belfast our ship would probably load up again for London, so the cast iron would be offloaded and sold. If you can carry drain coves you can sell in Ireland (even at a cut price) it beats carrying a ballast loads of rocks which are worthless. And if the cast iron is sold at a cut price, it may even ahve been cheaper than the loaclly produces Irish stuff!

That's my theory anyway. Are there any maritime historians out there who can confirm this might be the case?

I went on the boating lake in the park once, does that count. lol

Cargo ships did indeed carry heavy items on the return journeys for just that reason, so your theory makes sense.

Cargo ships nowadays have ballast tanks which are filled with water for the return journey. It has since been realised that this can cause ecological damage. By transferring marine life across the globe, along with the water, the natural balance can be upset.

There we go, messing about with nature again. :mellow:

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Lots of those in Endcliffe Park and all dated 1936.

Interesting - mine is in old industrial Attercliffe - wonder what the link is?

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Andy1702 is probably correct about the American cast Iron Water Meter boxes as ballast, I never thought about that but isn't there a pile of crockery or bricks somewhere down south that was just dumped near the dock, this too was just ballast.

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Sheffield Corporation 1904 - Midland Street.

And this odd thing on Margaret Street (Non-Metallic) which has been cut down to fit the drain size.

Here's a crop of the side which is cut down - can't make out what it used to say.

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"The true extent of the rising crime of manhole and drain cover thefts can be revealed today – as councils resort to replacing covers with non-metal ones in an attempt to thwart the thieves."

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hilldweller

Sheffield Corporation 1904 - Midland Street.

attachicon.gifSheff Corporation-1904-Midland St.jpg

And this odd thing on Margaret Street (Non-Metallic) which has been cut down to fit the drain size.

attachicon.gifNon-Metallic-Margaret St.jpg

Here's a crop of the side which is cut down - can't make out what it used to say.

attachicon.gifNon-Metallic crop.jpg

The end of the word is "grate". There is one manufacturer of these things called "Envirograte" but I can't resolve "Enviro" out of the remaining letters.

HD

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I am slowly pieceing together my thoughts on what can be worked out about Sheffield's history from it's drains. We have seen many 'Sheffield Corporation' drain covers with dates partially, or completely, obscured by time and damage. Maybe the 1892 example is not so unusual in itself but in that it has survived in such good condition (it is on a little used side street in a former industrial area).

I am sure that the development of the street layouts that we know today are often linked to the expansion of the Electric Tramway in 1899-1902 hence many drain covers with those dates on (i wonder when and why they started dating the drains?). Sheffield became a City in 1893 and in the same year Parliament passed the Sheffield (Street Widening) Act which paved :) the way for the planned electrification of the Tramway. It was also required by the 1897 Streets and Tramways Act that a gap of 9 feet 6 inches was left between the tracks and the kerb if requested by traders or residents. Throw in the need for improved drainage when the Tramway was in place and you have the need for a major programme of such work in the late 1890s.

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Sheffield Electric Light and Power Board - any idea of dates? This is the only one of these i have seen anywhere.

I have recently seen another couple of these in Eccleshall, i think on Westbourne Grove. The one in the photo is near the University on Durham Road. Strange how these few have survived and they still appear to be in reasonably good condition. Every time i go out to look at the pavement i am left scratching my head :huh:

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Next to a modern BT pavement feature is a 'Post Office Telegraphs' one. Note the conditions are almost identical despite one being much older.

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A late Nineteenth century brief experiment with extra slats - only seen a couple of these, wonder what they changed it for?

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Cheers Andy - i only just noticed that the earliest dated example, 1892, is different to the next earliest, 1895, and that therefore the worn example with six slats is from the same period (pre 1895). Dates and provenance all helps the case for listing pavement and road surface features.

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Another interesting day walking around today - this time in the Kelham Island and Shalesmoor area. I found an 1893 dated cover which confirms that the style changed between 1892 and 1893. What cracking condition this is in by the way!

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On the same short backstreet is a dated 'earlier style' drain cover - it looks like 1894, but if it is then everything makes no sense at all :unsure:

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In about 1895 there was a case - Sheffield Corporation versus Young", following which the Corporation had to allow the use of earthenware gullies, rather than restricting the material to cast iron, which was the material the Corporation used. I've not been able to find anything more than this, but the absence of any remaining earthenware gullies, perhaps shows that the Corporation were right?

Here's where you could buy Corporation pattern gullies:

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from the Medical Officer's report for 1898, discussing the lack of drainage in many properties:

"that the sink pipes discharge into more or less imperfect channels in the yards, and thence the slop water is conducted through the passage, across the pavement, and along what is often a more imperfect street channel, to the nearest street gulley. With arrangements such as these it has become a. common practice to throw the slop water on the surface of the street. In a large number of these streets the pavement is imperfect, often boulders set in ashes. The result is that the organic matter in the slop water is allowed to soak into the places between the stones, there to produce what is in my opinion, a good breeding ground for the organism of typhoid fever."

The Corporation had suffered from the refusal of loans from central government for street drainage. A £38,000 loan for highways use had been reduced by the amount of the drainage because the govenment believed that Sheffield's means of dealing with the collected effluent (ie Blackburn) was insufficient.

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I saw these drain covers up around Brocco Bank, i.e. Newington Rd, Rossington Rd etc. The double one that was made in Bangor, I think they were actually based in Llandudno. Can you see the Government ARROW mark in the bottom right hand corner of the one dated 1899?

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