London is renowned for its historical landmarks, its celebrated statues, cathedrals and churches, and its museums that chronicle civilisations from across the globe. But hidden amongst the trappings of modernity and the monuments to history, are the neglected remnants of London’s everyday past. Inspiration and curiosity really are to be found in every nook and cranny of the city’s streets and alleys.

The Faded London blog is a collection of these ‘windows onto the past’, collecting together plaques, architectural quirks, and obsolete street furniture to show a fascinating side of the city which has been forgotten and obscured by modern life. A particular feature are those old painted shop signs painted onto the sides of brick buildings, bearing names of long-forgotten businesses, or in some cases the few high-street names that have endured through the years.

Walking through west London at the weekend I stumbled across several metal plates embedded into the pavement – too small and ornate to be manhole covers, I realised they were long-unused coal holes. These were hatches used to deliver coal to large households from the early 19th century until the middle of the 20th century. How many times have I walked over these hole covers in the past and never known what they were? And as the Faded London blog illustrates, they were made in numerous patterns and designs and are of interest in their own right.

I’ve now found that I can’t walk down a street without nosily checking out my surroundings, and have discovered so many details and features that I’d previously ignored yet had (sometimes literally) been right under my nose.

Damien Breen, senior designer

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