GPO Manhole covers

The GPO used marker posts where cables were buried underground (typically trunk route cables), rather than on telegraph pole runs. The posts highlighted the position of joints in the cable, and originally these joints were simply buried in the ground with no access box around them. However where later maintenance was required, and in various other situations, the joint would be within a buried box, with a cover at street level. Although in common parlance we tend to call all such covers "manhole covers", in reality the telecomms ones should be referred to as footway box covers (FBCs) - or carriageway box covers for the heavier duty ones in the road. They were never designed for a "man" - other than just an arm maybe - but instead contain the cable junction and/or associated wiring. To this day covers are often found in close proximity to the markers, and in some stretches of cable their presence can be an indicator that a marker post should be very nearby.

There are various designs of FBC around; some dating back to Post Office Telegraphs (or even Exchange Telegraph Company Limited), right up to modern-day BT covers. They may be square or rectangular, and for larger installations may involve two, three or more covers adjacent over a larger hole. Shown below are the range of styles of covers local to me, in Watford, Hertfordshire; click on any image to view larger version. (Photos © Derek Pattenson unless otherwise indicated)

Post Office / Telegraphs
square design

Post Office Telephones
rectangular design

P O
rectangular minimalist design

Post Office / Telegraphs
rectangular design

Post Office Telephones
rectangular fine font

G.P.O.
square inset design

Post Office Telephones
square inset design

BT
square inset design

Exchange Telegraph Company
predecessor to Post Office

Photo by Mauls under license

Post Office Telephones
with grille

Photo by Joyce Ainslie

Because of the sheer number of these manhole covers, I'm not going to make any attempt to document or map these. However I'd be interested in photographs of any designs that differ in style from the above examples, so we can build a complete gallery of styles here. Let me know via the Marker Posts reporting page, where you can also upload your images together with location details.
 

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