Historic Street Furniture

This section of my website is dedicated to the memory of my good friend Mike Horne, who tragically died far too young on 26th March 2020 following a heart attack.

I helped Mike in a very small way with his quest to seek and record all surviving boundary markers of civil parishes and their successors in London and Middlesex, until the formation of the Great London Council’s 32 new boroughs on 1st April 1965. His website is being maintained.


While on my travels around the capital I photograph street furniture that catches my eye, especially if such items appear to date from pre-GLC (now GLA) local government or pre-privatization public utilities. For example, the covers of manholes, fire hydrants, drains and the like may be mundane but the names of the organizations that may be found on them are a reminder of earlier local councils and companies now long gone. In this section I present a selection of these photographs together with background notes providing historical context.

While such items as signposts and sewer vent pipes tend to ‘stay put’, the nature of pavement covers is that they can, and do, get moved about. I have tried to give the location for each image but already know that one or two have gone. Dates when each photograph was taken are appended to their captions. The photographs are divided into sections for their original providers and many of the artefacts bear their names, or abbreviations of them.

This is a very neglected aspect of the activities of local government and the utilities. Some of the images are of the only example spotted, where others may be quite common within any particular area.

The photographs are catalogued by present London borough, with cumulative alpha-numerical references, though filed by original provider. The Catalogue lists each artefact, with its original provider, location and date of the photograph. If you are interested in a particular defunct local authority or public utility you can go straight to each one from the relevant smaller, provider, button below; each takes you to (mostly) multiple photo sets.

One of the informal parameters used for selecting an historical artefact to show on this website is the existence somewhere on it of the name of the original owning organization, whether it be a local authority, a utility company, a public transport operator or whatever. Part of the fascination lies in seeing these superseded names still on public view many years after their absorption into some other organization or otherwise having disappeared completely. The name may sometimes be no more than a set of initials but elucidating them and learning something of the organization’s history is a satisfying exercise in itself. At the same time, artefacts which clearly hold some historical technical or social interest but which do not bear any owner’s or user’s name are necessarily excluded from the classifications. To allow for their inclusion here, therefore, these items are filed under the tab ‘ANONYMOUS BUT INTERESTING’.

Please remember that all text and images are protected by copyright law.

Last updated: 11th June 2024

Inner London Areas HistoryOuter London Areas HistoryPublic Utilities
Public UtilitiesGovernment DepartmentsGovernment Departments

I am grateful to Science Museum curator emeritus John Liffen for contributing these historical notes and for his overall support and advice during the development and updating of this section of the website.

Local authorities
Acton UDCActon Borough CouncilBarking UDCBarking Boroughbarnes-urban-districtBarnet UDCBattersea Metropolitan Borough Council LightingBeddington & Wallington BCBermondsey Met Boroughacton-borough-councilBromley TCChingford UDCChiswick UDCChingford UDCCroydon County BoroughDeptford Met BoroughEaling BCEast Barnet Valley UDCEast Finchley localEast Ham UDCEast Ham UDCEast Ham CBCEdmonton LBoHEdmonton UDCEdmonton BoroughEnfield Urban DistrictEnfield BCEssex CountyFinchley CPFinchley LBFinchley UDCFinchley BCFriern Barnet UDCFulham Met BoroughHackney BCHammersmith BChampstead-met-boroughHarrow UDCHendon UDCHendon BCHendon BCHornsey LBHornsey UDCHornsey BCIlford UDCIslington St MaryIslington BCKingsbury UDCLeyton BClondon-county-councillondon-county-councilMiddlesex CCmitcham-vestrypoplar-met-borough Potters Bar UDC Richmond MBC Romford UDC Romford BC St. Marylebone Met BoroughSt. Mary Newington VestrySt Pancras VestrySt Pancras BoroughShoreditch Met BCshoreditch-st-leonard-vestrySidcup UDCSouthgate LBSouthgate UDCSouthgate BCSouthwark Metropolitan Boroughstepney-met-boroughstoke-newington-met-boroughsurbiton-urban-districtTottenham UDCTottenham BCUxbridge Urban DistrictWandsworth BCWanstead Woodford BCWembley BCWest Ham CBCwillesden-fire-brigadewillesden-urban-districtWood Green UDCWood Green BCWoodford UDCWoolwich Borough Council
Public utilities
central electricity generating boardCity Of London Electric Lighting Companycolne valley water coCounty of London & Brush Electricalcounty-of-london-electricit-supplyCroydon Water Workseast-barnet-gas-water-companyExchange Telegraph CompanyFire HydrantsGas Light and CokeGPOLondon Electricity BoardLondon Electricity BoardLondon Electric Supply CorporationLondon Hydraulic Power Companymetropolitan-board-of-worksMet_DrinkingMet WaterMet WaterNTCNew_RiverNorth Met Electricnorth-middlesex-gas-companyNorth Thames Gas Boardsouth-eastern-gas-boardSouth Essex Waterworks BCSouth London Electric SupplySouth Suburban Gas CompanySouthwark and Vauxhall Water CompanySouth West Suburban Water CompanyTottenham Fire Brigade Tottenham GasTottenham & District Light Heat & Power Companywest-middlesex-water-company Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Westminster Electric Supply Corporation
Public transport
Central London RailwayCity & South London Railwaygreat eastern railwaygreat western railwayLondon Brighton & South Coast RailwayLondon General Omnibus CompanyLondon & North Eastern RailwayLCC TramwaysLondon Passenger Transport BoardLondon TransportLondon Passenger Transport BoardLondon Passenger Transport BoardLondon United TramwaysMetropolitan Electric TramwaysLondon TransportLondon TransportLondon TransportSouthern Railway
traffic signs preľ1965
Directional signsWarning signs
Outside London
Government departments
Military Boundary MarkersOrdnance Survey
ANONYMOUS BUT INTERESTINGOrdnance SurveyOrdnance Survey
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