Sunday, 10 May 2009

Hold Your Nose

Funny how the smallest detail can act as an aide memoire to all things past. I took one of my boys on a tour of the sights of my own childhood- houses, workplaces, places I loved, places where I got to up to no good. I was born in the back bedroom of an 1899 house in Wigston Fields, just to the south of the city of Leicester. You'll find a picture of it on page 13 of The English Buildings Book - at long last in paperback. The back part of the house was once a remote Georgian cottage, but in late Victorian times large houses gathered around it in the fields and the old cottage was doubled in size. The original trackway became sealed-off as a cul-de-sac, and at the top there was a forbidding brick wall- I imagined heaven was on the other side- together with this lovely piece of cast ironwork forming the base of a tall tube that towered into the sky. We didn't think it special then, quite the reverse. For this, we were told, was a Stink Pole. Not understanding this meant a sewer ventilator I just assumed it was where 'Number Twos' were stored. Probably just mine. The lane is almost exactly as it was when I first propped my bike up against it- just more cars parked against the hedges. This was fascinating to my son, who stared at it and then at me and of course tried to climb up it. Something I never attempted, sadly. But I'm very pleased to see it still in service, 'doing the business' as it were.

5 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

What a marvellous name for a marvellous object. So good that something so handsome should be given over to dealing with our smelly poo. The online thesaurus created by English Heritage to keep us all on our toes says: 'Stink pole: Use Sewer ventilation pipe.' But it's just not the same.

Thud said...

You are lucky to be able to take the lad back, for many the past is something remembered through a few tattered photos.

accountant said...

Was the design of these pipes standard as I notice a similar one on the edge of Medbourne as I drive to Uppingham.

Peter Ashley said...

They would have been very much a standard design, although I expect parish councils were given a choice from a pattern book. Stanton & Staveley in Leicestershire were amongst the largest manufacturers.

Sue said...

How wonderful to think of the Stink Pole barons of old. I'm sure it was a good business to be in and probably less embarassing at parties than being the brand manager of Velvet quilted toilet tissue.