In the days when coal was the dominant fuel for domestic heating many houses were built with coal bunkers in the basement. Street-level access, particularly for those residences that fronted directly onto the pavement, was normally through a coal hole. This was often located in the pavement and lead via a chute directly to the underground coal bunker and allowed coal to be delivered without the need to enter the property. It was also meant that the coal merchant could park his vehicle close to the coal hole resulting in the merchant having to carry the coal normally a very short distance.
The coal hole was enclosed normally with a cast iron cover, although glass and ventilated covers were also used. Many were circular, which offered several advantages, including that being circular they could not fall through the hole, they could be rolled out of the way and being circular less likely to be damaged. However, in Loughborough many are square often with a ‘non-slip’ pattern and radiating holes.
The firm only produced one type of coal shoot cover and that was the square model with a ‘non-slip’ pattern and radiating holes. This sat on a frame which was embedded into the pavement, directly over the coal hole.