Friday, 6 February 2015

Have manhole covers been covered? (Or "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with m")

The exhibition of nominated heritage assets is taking place soon as I mention elsewhere, and I now I’m feeling guilty that I contributed so little. I’ve been too busy blogging.

It’s too late to submit anything now, I think, but here goes…

Manhole covers!  Do you notice them? I mean the ones that have names on, like the one at…  But I hesitate. I have a problem here, because I have always noticed them, and ever since reading about the unscrupulous metal thieves who scoop them up and carry them off to be melted down I’ve been worried about their future. 


They’re definitely part of our heritage: “a fascinating part of local history" as Charles Wagner, the London Historic Areas Adviser at English Heritage said in response to news of the crime wave which was sweeping the capital’s streets ten years ago, leaving dangerous empty holes.

The problem has not gone away. In fact ‘Manhole cover  theft’ is a specific topic treated all on its own in Wikipedia, having become a worldwide phenomenon. It quotes the example of Calcutta, where 10,000 manhole covers were taken in two months.

So although I admire historian Tehmina Goskar for her diligent recording of Cornish manhole covers at  I’m just a bit worried about giving the location of the Budleigh Salterton ones that I feature here. Or am I being unnecessarily protective? 


You may even think I'm a bit of a nutter. 


But Budleigh Salterton is after all the town of Charles Warrell (1889-1995), aka Big Chief I-Spy. 


You can read about him here.  


I'm sure he would have approved of manhole cover spotting. 

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