Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

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[57] Worth a Thousand Words

[57] Worth a Thousand Words – A Blog about Signs without Words

I am going to start this one with the bit about the title that usually goes at the end of the blog. I have to admit that I thought the origin of the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words” was an old Chinese saying but it’s history is complicated and I take my information, as always from Wikipedia, which say that it is ‘an English idiom.’

The expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Tess Flanders discussing journalism and publicity. A similar phrase, “One Look Is worth a thousand words”, appears in a 1913 newspaper advertisement for the Piqua Auto Supply House of Piqua, Ohio. An early use of the exact phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” appears in a 1918 newspaper advertisement for the San Antonio Light.

Perhaps the modern use of the phrase stems from an article by Fred R. Barnard in the advertising trade journal Printers’ Ink, promoting the use of images in advertisements that appeared on the sides of streetcars. The December 8, 1921, issue carries an advertisement entitled, “One Look is Worth a Thousand Words.” Another advertisement by Barnard appeared in 1927 with the phrase “One Picture Worth Ten Thousand Words”, where it was labeled as a Chinese proverb. The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases quotes Barnard as saying he called it “a Chinese proverb, so that people would take it seriously.” The proverb soon became popularly attributed to Confucius.

The actual Chinese expression “Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once” () is sometimes considered as an equivalent.

Despite this modern origin of the popular phrase, the sentiment has been expressed by earlier writers. For example, the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev wrote in Fathers and Sons in 1861, “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book.” The quote is sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, who said “A good sketch is better than a long speech” (Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu’un long discours.)

[I won’t confuse you by considering ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,’ a genuine Chinese saying attributed to Lao Tzu.]

It does, of course, mean that a complex idea may be conveyed with just a single still image, perhaps more effectively than a long description in words. In a strange way when we use pictures as symbols the opposite is true. A detailed picture is used to replace a statement of a few words.

The green gross is an internationally recognized term for what we used to call a Chemist. Now it’s sometimes called a Pharmacy – somewhere that dispenses controlled drugs. As a symbol it just represents one word.

The next just means ‘Litter Bin.’ (At least it does in the UK. Americans may call it a ‘Trash Can.’ Perhaps in a way the picture says a little more.)

The next two again replace what could have been one-word signs in an amusing way. With typical British euphemism and politeness we don’t say ‘Toilets,’ and we generally prefer ‘Gentlemen’ and ‘Ladies’ to ‘Men’ and ‘Women.’ Sometimes pubs have more amusing ideas such as ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ (or in seaside towns I have seen ‘Buoys’ and ‘Gulls.’) These pictures say the same thing.

Here are two more symbols, both just a little more than a symbol. The horse-shoe outside a house was presumable a token of good luck and the trigonometric point, used long ago to aid map-making, had to be enduring and fixed.

The next two large pictures are like signs to show a bird hide. They were very large and made the purpose of the little wooden building very obvious.

But the hide did actually also have its name on a sign in letters – in English and Welsh. So perhaps the birds were just pictures.

Traffic Signs

I am doing this blog, as I generally do, in a fairly random order, and next we have some traffic lights. Even a simple red or green circular light is a picture sign.

By the gates at level crossings we have flashing lights (and accompanying noises.)

There are various versions of pedestrian lights. Some are small, others are larger on the other side of the street.


(It’s easier to photograph the red signs. I feel I ought to cross when they are green.)

Some include cycle crossings and so include a picture of a cycle.

[I am not sure why something bright red turns out to be more or less white when photographed with a red or orange border. Perhaps it’s a trick of perception or perhaps the camera does strange things with bright lights.]

Here are some more symbols on roads, pedestrian and cycle paths and car parks.

Logos and Advertising

All logos are pictures without words. They are instantly recognizable and may convey more than just the name. Where we don’t know who is selling sometimes a picture shows us what is for sale in an attempt to invoke impulse buying.

I wanted to do a lot of pub signs. When I was young all pubs had pictures as signs. We used to play Pub Cricket on long journeys. Now most of the pubs have gone, most of those that are left have become restaurants and the remaining country pubs have nearly all lost their pictorial signs.


A few more picture signs without comment.

Crosses and Flags are symbolic picture signs.

A Little Story

Almost hidden away in Cheltenham’s High Street is a series of mosaic pictures showing the story of an elephant that supposedly escaped from a circus in the town. The first bits of the words of the story have been removed but here are the pictures.

[I am not sure that these are signs but I wanted to include them somewhere!]

Weather Vanes

I wasn’t quite sure where to put these but they are signs and they are pictures.

Many of my photographs have been heavily cropped for this blog to show just the sign.

I will end with one of my shots of pedestrian traffic lights.

You have to be careful with photographing glass surfaces. You can see me with my camera, camera case and shopping bag!


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[54] Kilroy was Here

[54] Kilroy was Here – a Pictorial Blog about Plaques

Any one my age will recognize this title. When I was young graffiti was non-existent by today’s standards. Now we have freely available spray paint in many colours. Back then we had white chalk for drawing and pen-knives, which could be used for engraving wood and sometimes stone walls. If you did see any graffiti, which was unusual, it was probably just a name, perhaps with a date.

I am indebted to Wikipedia for a fairly extensive description of this phenomenon. I will give a more concise summary.

The graffiti ‘Kilroy was Here’ appeared and spread in World War II, and was instantly recognizable. Often it was accompanied by a doodle of the character Chad. Origins of both are disputed but Kilroy seems to have come from GIs (American soldiers) in the Forties. Chad is of slightly earlier UK origin, possible from the RAF or a British cartoonist.

I wish I could show you a picture of Chad – but for this blog I have foresworn the use of pictures – allowing only those taken by me during this year. He appears as the top half of a bald head (possibly with a single curly hair) peering over a wall. His long nose comes down over the wall and his two hands are at the sides as if he is pulling himself up to look over the wall. In an age of rationing Chad sometimes had the slogan ‘Wot, no sugar?’ (Or other commodity) before he became so associated with Kilroy.

I am not going to talk about graffiti. I am going to talk about signs that appear on walls.


Before I started this I thought that blue plaques were a straightforward countrywide phenomenon but I soon found out that things are not so simple. Once again Wikipedia has been helpful. The earliest blue plaques, erected to commemorate a historical link between a building and a famous person, are in London.

In the Nineteenth Century the system was controlled by the Society of Arts. From 1901 the London County Council took over, becoming the Greater London Council in 1965. Since 1986 it has been English Heritage.

There are many other similar schemes, generally restricted geographically or culturally – and not all are blue!

Cheltenham Blue Plaques

I wanted to include the three famous people I have learned to associate with Cheltenham – Gustav Holst, Edward Wilson and Edward Jenner but in the process of writing this I decided to split them off and you can read about them elsewhere. To be honest they were not an impressive source of blue plaques.

I haven’t looked specifically for any others but I walk in and around Cheltenham often and I have been looking carefully for blue plaques. I have found a few quite similar to the traditional blue plaque but not quite such a vivid dark blue. They are produced by the Cheltenham Civic Society.

I have to admit that I have only ever heard of two of these six. Francis Close is quite famous locally. He was the rector of Cheltenham Parish Church in the early Nineteenth Century and is commemorated in two local educational establishments – Dean Close School and Francis Close Hall (now a campus of the University of Gloucestershire.) Also I am very much of the Rolling Stones generation.

I will generally leave it to you to read the wording on these plaques. You will note that, while each one has the Civic Society identified at the top, they have different sponsoring organisations identified at the bottom.

I won’t even tell you where I found them.

More from Cheltenham

There are many other plaques in Cheltenham. I will go for the other blue looking ones next. You can read them yourselves.

These also all seem to involve two organisations involved and for the Civic Awards we now have the Civic Society taking the other role. (I’m not totally clear what the two roles are!)

While I note that some of these are a nice vivid blue I also note that they seem to fade with age. Maybe these ones are not expected to last so long.

Now we have some that are not round and blue.

This one is strange. It’s on the Honeybourne Path on the ground almost hidden my plants. I spotted it recently after passing it dozens of times. I had never heard of the Rendezvous Society. It’s a small local charity working through Cheltenham and its twinned towns abroad.

Two railway related plaques. The first is on a house that until recently was a pub. The second is at the main entrance to Waitrose, my local supermarket. They are not so much about the buildings as what used to be there before them.

I have to include this one, which I missed when doing Statues. You can see the fountain there (not working.)

Here is one about another fountain tucked away in a corner not far away. (Yes, the sun was out and my shadow is in the way.) This is not the place to show you this fountain.

This one on the Everyman Theatre was so high on the wall that it was quite difficult to spot. The Churchill Gardens are something else you might miss if you didn’t know where to look.

These two may look majestic in black but they are not the most exciting ones I found.

Not Quite Plaques

I don’t know if the next come into the definition of plaques but they are signs on buildings telling us something about the buildings. Think of this blog as a loosely defined as a sub-category of signs. These ones come without comment. 

Cirencester Civic Society

I spent a day in Cirencester with friends and we took a walk around part of its historic centre. We just happened to pick a walk with lots of plaques. Here in random order are some of the Cirencester Civic Society plaques we found.

(The walk came from a leaflet that showed lots more of these in the town.)

More from Cirencester

There were other plaques and stone wall signs. Here are some more in no particular order without comments.

Other Places

Two from Bournemouth.

Three from the Thames Path near Oxford.

One from Oxford and one from Stow-on-the-Wold.

There are other pubs in England making similar claims to the one above.

I will end with an enigmatic sign on a railway bridge near to where I live.

I have no idea what it means!

[I have adjusted the contrast of some old and worn signs to make them more legible.]


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[54] Let us Now Praise Famous Men

[54] Let us Now Praise Famous Men – a Blog about Three Famous Men

I have lived for almost fifty years in the town of Cheltenham and I now think of it fondly as my home town. We have three famous people whom I have learned to associate with Cheltenham and this will be about them. (I’m not saying we only have three.)

My original plan was to use these three as a base for something about blue plaques but between them they have almost totally failed in the blue plaque department. I will do a separate blog about plaques.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

When I was young I assumed that Gustav Holst was German or Austrian because of his name. (OK, the name is from Denmark but I didn’t know that. It sounded a bit foreign.) Since moving to Cheltenham I learned that he was one of our claims to fame. I passed the house where he was born several times. I have even been inside it.

He was born in 1874 in Cheltenham, Gustavus Theodore von Holst, and went to Cheltenham Grammar School. In pop music terms he was a ‘One Hit Wonder.’ Although he wrote a large number of pieces of music he is only remembered for The Planets, an orchestral suite of seven movements each named after one of the Planets. (He didn’t have to worry about whether Pluto was a planet or not. It hadn’t been discovered then.)

The work is not really about the planets in an astronomical sense. That’s why it does not include the Earth. It’s not even about the mythology of the Roman gods. It’s about astrology. The full titles of the seven movements, which convey the nature of the astrological gods, are:

  • Mars, the Bringer of War
  • Venus, the Bringer of Peace
  • Mercury, the Winged Messenger
  • Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
  • Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
  • Uranus, the Magician
  • Neptune, the Mystic

As part of my research I looked him up on Wikipedia and they show a lovely English Heritage blue plaque, one of the typical dark blue circular plaques associated with where people lived. Unfortunately it is at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London where he taught as he was writing The Planets.

I went to his Birthplace Museum and found this on the wall.

It’s not quite what I thought of as a plaque. Below it is this.

I suppose this is a plaque but it’s more about the building than the person.

(There was another notice saying that the museum was closed until further notice. I can report that it reopened in January after a closure of six months.)

We now have a statue of Holst in Imperial Gardens at the centre of Cheltenham. I can remember it appearing as recently as April 2009.

He would often hold the baton as shown in his left hand because he had neuritis in his right arm. This prevented him from learning the piano so he took up the trombone – becoming a professional player and music teacher.

On the plinth of the statue we can find perhaps his best plaque.

Edward Adrian Wilson (1872-1912)

Not far from this statue is another statue modelled by Kathleen Scott, unveiled in 1914. This one is Edward Wilson of the Antarctic, my second famous Cheltonian.

This monument has an inscription.

If you can’t read this picture the important bits are, “Artist and Zoologist of the British Antarctic Expeditions 1910-1913. He reached the South Pole January 17 – 1912 and died with Capt. Scott on the Great Ice Barrier March 1912.”

I knew where he was born and I went there in search of a plaque and I founds this.

It’s big and very impressive but it’s not exactly a round blue plaque! You can get a better idea of the size of these letters when you notice the two large windows shown at the edges of the picture.

Wilson was born here in Montpellier Terrace, Cheltenham and went to school at a preparatory school in Clifton, Bristol, then at Cheltenham College. He lived on a farm in Leckhampton and developed a strong interest in nature and wildlife. He read Natural Science at Cambridge University and then studied Medicine in London.

While convalescing from tuberculosis in Norway and Switzerland he developed his skills as an artist. Then he qualified in medicine and became a Junior House Surgeon at Cheltenham General Hospital before turning to arctic exploration with Scott. Scott’s fate is well-known.

I am going to add one more picture about Edward Adrian Wilson. Cheltenham has an Art Gallery and Museum, which underwent a major redevelopment process a few years ago. Just before its relaunch in September 2013 they decided to rename it. I think they suggested two or three options and left it to public choice. It is now known, somewhat enigmatically, as ‘The Wilson’, proudly displaying this plaque outside.

Edward Jenner(1749-1823)

Jenner was the pioneer of the smallpox vaccine, proving that cowpox could be used to provide immunity from smallpox. He was born in Berkeley, a small town in Gloucestershire and from 1795 he lived in Cheltenham for the summer seasons.

There was a building called Alpha House, which until a few years ago stood on the site of our local engineering firm, Spirax-Sarco. It had a plaque saying that Jenner lived there. But the site was sold for development and Spirax moved a few miles away. Now there is a residential Home for the elderly and many flats and houses. The last houses to go up have just appeared where Alpha House used to be. There is no plaque!

I was a bit disappointed so I searched the Internet for information. I now know that he never lived there but it was one of the places he used to dispense vaccination, free of charge, to the poor. I found a lot more on the Internet.

Since 1795 Jenner lived nearer to the town centre in Jenner House, in St George’s Place. (At the time St George’s Place was simply a coach road across the fields known by its earlier name of Stills Lane.) His house was demolished in 1970 but a replica was constructed in 1994, similar in appearance from the outside. This house does have a plaque!

Jenner was a keen gardener but just had a small back garden here. In 1804 he bought a large portion of land opposite (then still a field) and made a kitchen garden and ornamental garden.

In 1809 he sold some of this land for Cheltenham Chapel, built to relieve the overcrowding at the Parish Church. (It is still there but no longer used as a chapel.)

Trustees of the chapel bought part of Jenner’s gardens for use as a cemetery and a lane was made to link this to Jenner House. Eventually the congregation of the Chapel declined and the graveyard filled. Its last burial was in 1889 and the graveyard closed in 1894. It became an overgrown and forgotten site until closed to the public in 2004.

With help from volunteers and local businesses the area of the cemetery was restored and planted with flowers. Since June 2009 it has re-opened as Jenner Gardens.

The lane linking these gardens to Jenner House is now known as Jenner Walk.

Apart from the Civic Award of 2009 shown above my three heroes had failed me for plaques but I decided to give them a blog to themselves. Plaques can come later. (They will. I have plenty of pictures from other places.)

After a bit of searching I found my title quotation in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 44.

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions…

As always, I use the Authorized Version of 1611 also known as the King James Version.

[I suppose I should have said that Ecclesiastes is a book in the Bible. Maybe not all of my readers won’t recognize it. The web-site where I found this quotation called it ’Ecclesiasticus.’]


As well as one on plaques, you can expect a blog on some of the other sights of Cheltenham.




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[53] Feet Begin to Crumble

[53] Feet Begin to Crumble – a Blog about Road Surface signs.

For this blog I will look at signs painted on the road surface, what the USA would call the ‘pavement.’ My other related blog, Blog [52] is about signs on what we in the UK call the pavement but the USA calls the ‘sidewalk.’ And both are linked to [22] Road re-surfacing.

I have collected at random few dozen pictures just by photographing the road surface, almost all from my home town of Cheltenham and I will try to sort then into a vaguely sensible order.

They nearly all consist of words and they tell motorists where to go. I will start with a few that just point directions.




Reminders of speed limits.

20 20-red

Then some that separate the cars from busses, coaches, taxis, emergency vehicles etc.






(Coach stop number 4)




(This one has points nearby to recharge the electric vehicles.)

Some notices are about parking and car parks, many saying NO PARKING!









13(Reserved for house number 13)





Some are for pedestrians and cyclists.








This hump is at a cycle crossing.


Here are some more unusual ones.


By the beach at Bournemouth. (We visit in the winter so we never actually see the Land Train!)


Outside the Municipal Offices at Cheltenham.


Finally a standard ‘Give Way’ marking at a junction, freshly painted.

























The title, as for number [52] is from the single ‘Concrete and Clay’ by the UK pop band ‘Unit 4 + 2’ from 1965. It was number one in the charts but was the only song from the group to meet with success.

The lyrics are supposedly:

The sidewalks in the street; The concrete and the clay beneath my feet; Begins to crumble; But love will never die; Because we’ll see the mountains tumble; Before we say goodbye.

But it never seemed to scan properly. It sounded like:

The concrete and the clay beneath my … … … Feet begin to crumble … …


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[52] Concrete and Clay

[52] Concrete and Clay – a Blog about Pavement signs.

Of course by ‘pavement,’ I mean what the USA would call the ‘sidewalk.’ To add further confusion Blog [53] will be about signs on the road surface – what the USA calls the ‘pavement.’ And both are linked to [22] Road re-surfacing.

You need to go back a long way to find the source of the title. Concrete and Clay was a single by the UK pop band ‘Unit 4 + 2’ from 1965. It was number one in the charts but was the only song from the group to meet with success.

Almost all of the signs I am going to look at are about the things that flow underneath us beneath the streets, such as water, gas, electricity, drainage and telephony and television. As always, I will pick a fairly random order. I am not aiming to be complete but will just what I have seen in a few months of wandering.

Water Supply

Hidden somewhere, perhaps under the stairs, all houses have a mains tap that controls all the water supply to the house. There is usually a meter there to measure intake for charging purposes. There is also another stop tap a few metres away under the pavement outside. I’m not sure why this is. I think it’s because the water suppliers are only responsible for external pipes and the house owner technically owns the bit between the two stop taps.

Anyway here is the cover of a water supply point, set into the pavement.


Before I tell you about NWGWB, here is a much less common sight, a cover to a larger water meter, measuring general water flow rates.


One trouble with water is leakage. Not all of the water measured by general flow meters ever gets to users, where it can be charged for.


Ok, it’s time for a short diversion. Long ago, when I was a boy, water supply was nationalised. Users were not charged for water supply but it was included within Rates. [Lots of things have changed. Rates were local government taxes. After a few changes we now have Council Tax, which is roughly equivalent.]

Back in 1985, water supply was privatized. New water companies were established. Cheltenham now comes under Severn Trent, which took over from about twenty water authorities. One of the old authorities was the North West Gloucestershire Water Board.

[We will find later that gas, electricity, telephones and television went through similar privatization processes.]

Back to Water

So now you know. The NWGWB shown in the first two pictures is now long gone. Much more common on the streets of Cheltenham now are stop taps from Severn Trent (STW, STWA or STWBB).







I can’t explain why there are so many different versions. They do cover about thirty years. I have two theories about these little covers.

I suspect that the round designs are more modern, with modern technology better able to manage circular holes in the paving surface.

I don’t think the blue paint has any significance to the water board. I think it’s done so that these covers don’t get missed when the pavement is resurfaced.

We also have water meters under the pavement, marked as Severn Trent, with their larger covers.






You will notice that larger covers also bear the name of the manufacturer. These are all by Thomas Dudley, marked as ‘Dauntless.’ This company still operates in the UK and it has supplied iron castings since 1920 but their only product now marked as Dauntless is made of plastic. (See below about gas covers.)

Here are two more pictures to show how these covers can proliferate!



There are also some covers identified as Cheltenham Corporation Water Works (CCWW). I am not sure whether these pre-date NWGWB or may have been used at the same time.





Here are two unidentified water covers.



I am pretty sure the last one is a water meter. Stanton & Staveley will appear again later. Their ironworks closed in 2007.

Electricity and Gas

I suppose electricity and gas connections are more dangerous than water. We don’t have connections outside every house in the street as we do for water.

But you do see the occasional cover for gas and (much more rarely) electricity. Electricity and gas have been privatized in the same way as water but both effectively have a national transport grid. They don’t seem to identify the electricity company on these covers.









The more modern gas covers are plastic and yellow and you may have spotted Thomas Dudley again.

Telephones and Broadband

There is a bit of an overlap here with telephony in Blog [60], but telephone and broadband cables also go under our pavements. This is another area affected by privatization. These sturdy manhole covers have outlasted many political and business changes.

Many years ago, when we had very limited telephones that could just about cope with local calls they were controlled by the GPO, (General Post Office) which also managed letters, parcels, television, pensions and a few other things. GPO covers are recognisable from their concrete facings.




In 1969 the GPO became just the Post Office and it continued to look after telephones.






From 1980 to 1991 the part of the Post Office responsible for telephony was renamed as British Telecommunications but they traded as British Telecom.


British Telecom used a logo that tried to look a bit like the letter ‘T’ with Morse Code dots.




Then from 1991 British Telecommunications stopped the British Telecom branding and became known as BT. The organization has been gradually sold off and privatized since then but it still dominates our telephone network.





The process of undoing the monopoly of telephony started in 1981 with Mercury Communications, a subsidiary of Cable and Wireless. Mercury did not last for long. They were subsumed back into Cable and Wireless in 1997 before disappearing. I was lucky enough to find two examples of their covers.



Although there were underground cables for the GPO, it used to be much more common to see telephones connected to houses via telegraph poles. We still have them. Now the ones I see locally are all clearly marked with a number that shows that they belong to BT.


Cable Television

Somewhere around the Nineties cable television came to Cheltenham. Cables were laid in most of our streets and all houses had the option to connect to what was then Telewest, in competition with developing satellite television. The cables also provided telephone and broadband services. In 2006 Telewest merged with NTL to form Virgin Media.

There are inspection covers throughout our streets.





Wikipedia assures me that the abbreviation CATV is often used for cable television. It originally stood for Community Access Television or Community Antenna Television.

Fire Hydrants and Stop Valves

Apart from all the networks supplying the general public there are other networks and services under our feet fused by the Authorities.

There are fire hydrants to supply fire engines with water. The first one is Stanton again with its Ductile brand.




I am not sure but I think that sometimes Stop Valves (SV) are also there to help the Fire Services. You will see why later.


This a large SV cover, also Stanton Ductile.

It’s not helped by the water connections to our houses being called Stop Taps (See above) and even stop valves.



We don’t think about drains but they are essential. Drains serve two functions. They take away waste water and sewage from our houses and storm drains rapidly remove rainwater and prevent our streets from flooding.

On the streets they are not identified as drains. You will see Stanton & Staveley, Herbert & Young, Clark Drains and Glynwed identifying their products.









[I wasn’t sure about the last one but Wavin is an international company that still does storm drain systems.]

My pictures are almost all local but here’s a drain cover from Bournemouth – Stanton & Staveley again.


When we have blocked drains some of these covers have to be removed. These could be pavement covers but it’s usually similar drain covers on the private land by the house. The next two surprised me. I presume that they are provided by drain-rodding companies from times when they have been unable to find suitable access amywhere else.




You will notice in my blog about Telephony that the cables under our feet have connection boxes at the side of the pavement and this is also true of my two next topic. We have street lights everywhere and traffic lights are now common almost everywhere. They both need a network of electricity cable and controls under the street. I have put these two together because they seem to use the same network at times.

While most of the covers we have seen so far have been old and made of cast iron, many of these are modern stainless steel.





I did try to identify these but for Cooper Clarke, Wikipedia gives me a poet and for Hepworth I get a well-known sculptor. I did find Integrated Ducting Systems, who are still involved in traffic signals.

I have to admit that I am not sure about the next one. It looks like a storm drain and it was not near any traffic lights but it does very clearly proclaim ‘Traffic.’


Next we have three of the anonymous looking boxes by the side of the pavement.




You have to look very closely but here is the little identification plate at the top left of the last picture.



[These two pictures above were taken within seconds at the same place but one is in sunlight and one is in shadow.]


Some odds and ends.


All three-pin plugs have an earth [US: ground] connection. This used to be easy when houses could use the water supply system with its lead pipes. It’s more difficult now that we have so many plastic pipes. I can’t tell you anything more about Earth Rods.


This one is a … Monitoring Well! I found this one in Pittville Park quite near to a housing estate. I have no idea what it is for.



These are identified but they could be companies that have disappeared long ago. CCELW could be Cheltenham Corporation and SGE may be a gas company.


And some are not identified in any way.

Location Signs

I want to look now at the signs at the edge of the pavement and I have to admit to a great disappointment.

When I was young I liked to observe things and I had a few of the I-SPY books. I loved them. They cost sixpence each (2.5 pence in modern decimal money.) I remember I-SPY In the Street and I-SPY On the Road and their explanations of Fire Hydrants signs. So I searched the Internet and found the modern versions. I bought the 2010 version of I-SPY On the Street, which now costs £2:50.

Apart from one picture of an anonymous manhole cover it has nothing of relevance to anything in this blog!

So I went to Wikipedia and was not disappointed: ‘In the UK … yellow “H” hydrant signs indicate the location of the hydrants … mounted on a small post or nearby wall etc., the two numbers indicate the diameter of the water main (top number) and the distance from the sign (lower number). Modern signs show these measurements in millimetres and metres, whereas older signs use inches and feet. Because the orders of magnitude are so different (6 inches versus 150 mm) there is no ambiguity whichever measuring system is used.’

These signs, showing the location of nearby covers, are very common. Here are a few.





You can see the old and new types. They used to be on the small concrete or stone pedestals but some relatively new ones are sometimes put on railings or lamp-posts.


I think I knew about the yellow signs but I didn’t know about the others – and I-SPY didn’t help me.





My guess is that these are Stop Valves with the two numbers used in the same way as for hydrants. I don’t know why some are blue and some are not. And it looks as if they are also used by Fire Services because the two often appear together.




I have found just a few similar signs for gas pipelines.





I looked at some of the earlier topics chronologically but now I am going backwards in time. Many of the concrete signs are old and if you look carefully you can even find some that rely on letters engraved in the concrete.








You can see familiar GPO, SV and GAS. I think that LT (Low Tension), HT (High Tension) and EHT are electricity.


I have to end with two larger, much older stone signs. They must be milestones, probably showing Cheltenham as two or three miles away, but they are too worn to be legible.













The sidewalks in the street; The concrete and the clay beneath my feet; Begins to crumble; But love will never die; Because we’ll see the mountains tumble; Before we say goodbye.