Not a bad manhole cover, but the misalignment of the central square and the squares in the surrounding mount really upset my enjoyment of the cover. This is what happens when intermediaries without a true love of manhole covers are set to work installing them. Ideally the designer would place each manhole cover personally, in the same way an artist hangs their paintings in a gallery to avoid this kind of unseemly error. It didn't ruin my trip to Helsinki, but it certainly didn't improve it.
A second manhole cover from Helsinki
Here the designer avoids all the issues above with a nice circular design that works no matter which way around the cover is laid.
Anybody familiar with the usual 40 metric tonne load limit on manhole covers will be alarmed and amazed by the image above. This picture is sure to become the Dolly the Sheep of the manhole cover world.
For those of you unfamiliar with the 40 metric tonne load limit on manhole covers, simply compare the size of the manhole cover in this picture with any of the other manhole covers on this blog (or on the related flickr group). Use my UK size 9 (European size 45) shoes for scale and you'll see the shocking and alarming realization. This cover is 50% bigger than a standard 40 metric tonne load limit manhole cover.
That makes it an 80 tonne load limit manhole cover or, in the views of this blog, an abomination of nature.
When, WHEN?! will mankind learn that this kind of meddling in the natural order of things is liable to cause catastrophe. What deluded, off-campus, manhole cover-technician allowed his or her ego to overcome their responsibility to their trade and create this oversize affront to all humankind?
This blog joins other members of the manhole cover community in calling for the immediate withdrawal of government funding from such speculative manhole cover production. Where will the line be drawn? 120 tonne load limit? Why not 160? This is what happens when the art of creating a simple manhole cover falls into the hands of scientists and capitalists obsessed only with the next boundary to be crossed.
I'm all for scientific advancement if it means landing on the moon (and possibly adding sewage systems and manhole covers to it) but there's no good engineering reason to exceed a 40 metric tonne load limit. And if there's no good engineering reason for it then there's no reason for it at all.
As part of our advocacy work on behalf of manhole covers and associated manhole industries we took advice from London marketing consultancy Wotcha! (working for us as part of their charitable commitments). They advised us to reach new interested users by commissioning a song. The result was a commission and brief given to new band Everything Everything. The brief was concise: "Write a song about manhole covers."
Everything Everything took our brief very seriously and we thank them for their time. They spent two months in our reasearch library preparing for the recording. They tell me that one of the loops used to construct the song was inspired by the chemical compound of steel.
We're very pleased with the results, especially when a number of the old guard of the manhole cover establishment were so initially hostile to the whole idea, even of appointing a marketing agency. The video has had over 17,000 views on youtube, most of whom are new to manhole covers. So there.
Manhole covers are often used as tools to illustrate social and industrial history around the world. The introduction of sewage systems is a historic moment in the development of any community around the world.
But I recently took a photo that links manhole covers with a very particular aspect of modern global history. This one photo captures the significant role manhole covers have played in both global international terrorism, and the election of Americas first black President.
Here you can see two manhole covers located in Oslo city centre. They are tagged with welded strips of metal to prevent tampering. These strips were added to all manhole covers in Oslo city centre during President Barack Obama's visit to collect the Nobel Peace Prize shortly after his election in 2009.
What sort of a world do we live in, where terrorist groups might actively target a politcal figure or figures during a peace prize ceremony? This manhole has the answer: a depraved and fearsome world.
Following the ceremony, as manhole covers are raised, the tags are removed. These tags, almost one year later, remain as lasting reminders that manhole covers can provide access to the local sewage system to those bent on evil as well as good.
Please join me in signing this petition to leave the tags in situe as lasting memorials of our depraved modern world for future generations, who we can only hope are free to lift and place manhole covers without fear of persecution.
I came across a manhole cover roaming freely, enjoying the uninhibited movement common to all manhole covers before they are consigned to their permanent concrete or metal collars.
Workers often have quite a job catching the manhole covers when they're in this natural, young and exuberent state. Manhole Wranglers and even Manhole Whisperers are prized skills wherever iron is smelted. I was lucky to be able to take this picture with a high speed camera while the manhole cover was distracted by a passing bollard. It's a once in a lifetime shot.
It should be reiterated here, as it has been in many other technical and scientific journals, that manhole covers do not suffer when they are stamped into the pavement. Quite the opposite in fact, researchers at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology found that they actually 'quite like it' during a survey of over 2,000 manhole covers accross the American mid-west in 2003.
This post is going to take a moment to redress the balance in manhole cover reporting. Too many blogs only highlight the brilliant manhole covers, leaving some perfectly serivceable but unexceptional manhole covers consigned to the shadows.
With that in mind here are a selection of nice, but not exceptional, manhole covers. They're representative of the kind of manhole cover that even you, the average pedestrian, might be able to see in your daily lives without using the kind of specialised equipment we experts use to capture the more fantastic varieties.
When visiting new places, some people like to gaze around at the scenery and take pictures. The problem with doing that is that you might miss a really interesting manhole cover. Much better, in our view, to keep your eyes trained on the road in front of you.