In Pictures: Unusual Manhole Covers

A selection of unusual and ornate manhole covers from around the world

Unless you fall in one, or work in our industry, manhole covers are something we take for granted. We think of them as serving a purpose, and that many of them look pretty similar. The latter point is further than the truth. Over the last 200 years, there has been numerous designs, especially up to the mid-20th century. Some companies, like John Needham and Son in Stockport, became nationwide players till their foundry closed in 1979.

The one exception to this rule is Japan. Some of their cities have painted manhole covers, with a handful commemorating special events. In a world where today’s covers are bland or plastic (or both), they are a real contrast and true to the spirit of our Victorian forefathers.

Our selection of unique drain covers

Prague Manhole Cover by CSS and Design.
Prague Manhole Cover: note the city’s crest taking pride of place. A nice bit of eastern European municipal socialism for your eyes.
Nagano Manhole Cover by Mr Novel
For the first of our Japanese manhole covers, this one in Nagano was used to commemorate the hosting of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Osaka Manhole Cover by Isaac Mok.
The second Japanese drain cover, seen in Osaka, is a real beauty. Imagine the modern day streets of London had something like this? In full colour at that.
Amsterdam Manhole Cover by Aleksei Kazachok
We love the vortex style pattern of this one from Amsterdam.
Dusseldorf Manhole Cover by Aleksei Kazachok.
Similar to our example from Amsterdam, this drainage cover from Dusseldorf is close to the city’s stadium. This is symbolised by its artwork.
Don't you think that Thames Water manhole covers are dull?
Just to round off our selection of manhole covers, here’s a common and garden Thames Water one. Doesn’t it look dull compared with the other five?

Image Credits

  1. CSS and Design/;
  2. Mr. Novel/;
  3. Isaac Mok/;
  4. Aleksei Kazachok/;
  5. Aleksei Kazachok/;
  6. Michael Warwick/

Speedy Jet Drainage, 31 March 2017.