Builders’ Castings

In the 1920s and maybe even earlier, the firm ventured into producing an extensive range of manhole and lamphole covers, gully grates, hydrant covers, stop taps and the like. It appears that their target audience was mainly builders and contractors who were responsible for building the ever emerging new housing estates and their associated sewerage systems, under the auspices of the local authorities.

As early as 1875, when the Public Health Act was passed, local authorities were responsible for ensuring that sewers under their control were effective and were responsible for their upkeep[1]. The act also placed responsibility on the local authority to ensure that the sewers, belonging to them, were “constructed, covered, ventilated and kept so as not to be a nuisance or injurious to health, and to be properly cleansed and emptied.[2].

From around the 1870s sewers tended to be laid out, as far as possible, in straight lines, so as to help avoid blockages. However, it was recognised that access points were required, in case of such events and also for inspection. Two forms of inspection access points were developed, one for human access, known as manholes and the other, known as lampholes, were to allow a lamp to be lowered into the sewer, so as to provide sufficient light so as to allow inspection from the manhole. Therefore a scheme of mainly vertical access points was designed into the system, where manholes were typically placed at every change of lateral and vertical direction and lampholes where vertical changes occur. On some occasions manholes and lampholes held a dual role, by also providing ventilation.




  1. 38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 15
  2. 38 & 39 Vic. c. 55, s. 19