About the Book
London’s population has grown dramatically over the centuries, creating huge problems to provide its people with services & sanitation. Several times the situation deteriorated into health & safety catastrophes. The solution was to go underground.
London is now supported by a massive & complex subterranean infrastructure without which our standard of living would be impossible. As we walk around London’s magnificent streets, if we look down we will see an astonishing number of entrances into this concealed world.
But these “covers” are more than just access to utilities, they are a doorway to London’s social history, London’s engineering history, and London’s artistic history.
Design of covers has evolved over the years, mirroring changing fashions. This is true both of the manufacturing design, the materials & structure, and the artistic design. Indeed, in the artistic design of manhole covers we can see the ongoing battle of function versus form. Just as in architecture, manhole and coalhole covers reflect changing trends, from the purely boringly functional, to the weird & wonderful.
Manhole covers are there to provide authorized access to utilities, whilst stopping the public from falling into an infrastructure underworld. Thankfully human creativity has ensured that these ubiquitous covers are much more than blocks of metal & concrete. As we shall see, they are a fascinating reflection of our history, our civic pride, our ingenuity, and our artistic passion.