The many routes into subterranean London

Walking around central London recently you can’t help but notice the amount of construction (and destruction) that is going on, and I like to peek into the holes thinking that they are brief windows into the history and anatomy of the streets…

Hole in Soho

A hole in Soho showing the rough layers of rubble that lie beneath the smooth tarmac.

Walking up from the river to Farringdon and going past the massive work-site that is the Crossrail project, I started thinking again about all these holes being bored down into the city and looked down at the pavement as I walked…holes-in-the-pavement-31

I was seeing vents, access points and man-hole covers every couple of steps;  sometimes in an even shorter distance…

I took pictures as I went, covering what can’t have been more than ¼ mile, yet taking more than 50 photos…

I remember as a kid in primary school, we did a project where we took brass rubbings of coal- and man-hole covers in our street…

Many of the names and logos on the metal covers are left over from defunct companies; little pieces of history…

I liked how the ones shown below are like a puzzle gone wrong; the patterns of the paving slabs jumbled in their metal frames…

In your mind’s eye when you think of pavement, you probably think of a monotonous strip of grey asphalt, but taking the time to look down, I was aware of all the flaws and interruptions of the surface…

All the colours from the concrete, tar and paint used for street markings and surveyors notes. All the patterns and textures of the metal, the stains and marks of water, oil, petrol, piss and vomit.

And just how many cavities, holes, drains and tunnels do they cover? Where do they go, how do they not get all tangled up with each other? Am I now going to become fascinated with town planning and surveyors reports?…

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