Magdalen Road at night

Magdalen Road at night
December 2010

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Have you ever looked at the obvious little things in St Leonard’s?

Have you ever looked at …

… the obvious little things in St Leonard’s?

In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, Sherlock Holmes said:
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes”

This month, how about observing some of those obvious things? The rule that I have imposed on myself for these things is that they are small and below eye level. Some of these things are mysterious, so any answers will be welcome. Some of these can be called “street furniture”

Of course we all look where we are going, but how much notice do we take of the pavement and roadway? Throughout St Leonard’s there are granite kerbstones with the characteristic white crystals, which look like teeth set into the stone. Some of the kerbstones have carved letters and symbols. Maybe they once pointed to road features, but the passage of time, road changes, kerbstones being moved and so on mean that the marks are now mysterious. In the village, there are several inset pieces of metal, used to hold poles to support shop awnings – but how long ago? Also in the village and elsewhere the pavement is crossed by drain gullies which carry waste water to the gutter (provided that they are not clogged with leaves and other debris).

Beside the pavements are the gutters, and more granite setts at the edge of the tarmac surface. At intervals there are drain gratings, which come in a wide range of sizes and designs. The slats in the gratings may be curved, run in straight lines, or form networks. One design that I hope you won’t find has slats that run along the direction of the road without any cross pieces. Over twenty years ago, the city and county councils pledged to replace any such drain gratings, as there had been a few cases when bicycle wheels were trapped in them. On some of the gratings, you can find the names of the makers, including “Garton and King” and “Willeys”. Many of the gratings are designed to have an upstream side to catch the rainwater more effectively, and others are marked to show which way they should be inserted in relation to the traffic (there is one outside Zenith House). Oh, and by the way, I do really have a life; I do not spend my whole day looking at the drains of St Leonard’s!

Further out in the road, there are access plates for the utilities, made of metal and strong enough to cope with the traffic. The metal surfaces of these covers gradually wear away through abrasion leaving a polished surface which is a hazard to those on two wheels in wet and icy conditions. Take a look at the covers at the traffic lights in the village, or at the junction with Denmark Road to see how the steel has worn away.

On the opposite side of the pavement, there are signs pointing to some of these utilities, though in these days of GPS systems, most of them are recorded centrally and the signs are no longer needed. Look out for those for electricity supply and fire hydrants. Are there any in the area for gas supplies?

Many of the houses which front onto the street in the Roberts Road area have boot scrapers beside the front doors, set into the walls.

What obvious little things have you seen?

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