The Company were involved in the production of Municipal Castings back in the late 1860s and it seems they continued with their production right up until 1979 when the final castings were made and the foundry closed. Over some 110 or so years of production all sorts of styles, shapes, sizes and designs were produced.
The earliest photographed discovery I have made is for a cover by King & Munk from around 1868 found at Luscombe Castle, Dawlish (top image - click to enlarge). Below, one of two specific gratings which have been dated to 1900 - read more about them on the Services page.
A significant milestone in production was the formation of a Limited Liability Company on the 8th October 1924, so all products that include ‘Ltd’ in the name were cast after that date.
Around 1867 Taylor & Bodley were formed and in 1937 became a Limited Company and in 1943 Garton & King purchased the company and assumed control. Municipal castings by the company are few, a pre 1937 example is shown here.
This second Taylor & Bodley cover is of an unusual design and was discovered in a field in March 2021 on the former Hannaford Farm near Kennford. There seems no obvious way of opening it up to view the mystery of what lies beneath!
These and more early examples I have found are on the Pre-1925 page.
On the Circular Covers page Images 5 and 6 refer to a Patent Design; the Provisional Patent was applied for on 19th June 1934 and the Complete Specification accepted as Patent 436471 on the 11th October 1935. The text accompanying the drawings goes to great lengths to describe the design of these circular covers, to the extent that at the end of the lengthy description anyone at the Patent Office would probably have despaired and accepted the design just to get on with other applications in his In Tray!
The application was summed up thus:- ‘Device for the Prevention of Movement in Road Manhole Covers and Frames’. Although perhaps an over simplification the design incorporates 3 lugs on the cover and 3 recesses in the frame. When a vehicle wheel passes over the cover there is no tendency for the cover to move (Rock!) owing to the fact that the bearing pieces act on the principle of the well known three point bearing. What more can I add?
Local Authority restructuring in the 1970s resulted in the loss of custom from these smaller Authorities. Urban and Rural District Councils had, in the past, ordered covers with the Authority’s initials cast into them, such as St Thomas Rural District Council (StRDC) and Dawlish Urban District Council (DUDC) but the restructuring which was nationwide had a marked effect on Garton & King’s Order Book.
A similar situation developed with the formation of South West Water in 1989, prior to that date the smaller Water Boards were frequent customers of the Company, most having their initials cast into the cover, some of these customers were East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Devon Water Boards as well as undertakings in Exeter, Plymouth Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset and from much further afield.
Spell checking on the casting of text was often overlooked or haphazard, missing letters or text cast upside down - this example in Hatherleigh is worthy of note (from the Gulley Gratings page).
Whilst there are so many images to view, this is not a complete guide to the company’s Municipal Castings as discoveries are still being made, but the images you can access from here has taken me about 7 years to amass together with a few ‘Donations’ - if you have noticed any Garton & King with no ‘Ltd’ on, or ‘King & Munk’ or ‘Garton & Jarvis’, please send me an image and location - see the About Me page.
There is a fascinating article on the Historic England Blog about Manholes in which Garton & King and this website gets a prominent mention.
See "Walking on History: Surprising Secrets of Manholes" by Nicky Hughes.
Rectangular & Square Manholes - Triangular Covers
Circular Covers - Water Board and other Covers
Pre-1925 (no Ltd.) Castings - Gulleys
Kerb (Arterial) Gulleys - Pavement Channels
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