Culture Magazine

Unusual Light Wells and Coal Holes

By Janeslondon
Earlier this year I stopped in my tracks outside 258 Pentonville Rd, when I happened upon a very unusual light well running the full width of the shop.
I say 'unusual' because it's got coal hole cover plates embedded within it (one at each end) and this was the first of this kind I have ever seen.

Unusual light wells and coal holes

Ironwork and glass made by The British Luxfer Prisms company

Further sleuthing on Google Streetview shows the reason I hadn't ever noticed it before – it's been covered up for at least ten years, and this also explains its rusty condition.
And then last month I found another one in Birchin Lane a narrow street that joins Cornhill to Lombard Street in The Square Mile. Half way along, near Cowper Court, I happened upon a simpler [later?] combo with glass bricks embedded into concrete.

Unusual light wells and coal holes

Made by Haywards Ltd

And then, can you believe it, I found another one – this time just off Cloth Fair. And here's me thinking I am observant yet I have been marching past these for decades! This particular site has even has some light wells arranged as the steps into the building (I had already spotted that though!).
It's amazing how interesting and diverse these light wells can be. At the junction of Jewry Street/India Street in EC3 there some examples with lovely horse motifs on them which, again, is something I haven't seen elsewhere, though, judging by the cole-hole-light-well-combos I will probably be finding more soon.

Unusual light wells and coal holes

Made by the St Pancras Ironworks Company


I am not the only nerd interested in this kind of thing. See Yelfy's Faded London for more.

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