Monday, 10 August 2015

Manhole covers; Behind the scenes....

I was really happy last week to see so many people interested in the manhole covers I designed for Denbigh town centre last year.  Many thanks to the Crafts Council for sharing the project on their weekly newsletter.

I thought I'd share some of the processes involved in creating the manhole covers.

The seven, individually designed manhole covers each related to a story about Denbigh and the surrounding area, for example the glove making industry, and local famous Welsh author Kate Roberts.

The process began with visits to the Denbighshire archives in Ruthin, where I studied and photographed hundreds of years worth of Tithe and OS maps.  I then took map symbols and motifs from them, and re-composed them to tell the seven stories.

From my computer based design, a company in Liverpool made deep etched 'patterns', which were used by the foundry in Bury to make an impression in casting sand, which is then used as a mould to pour molten steel into.

On the left; here's a detail of the cast 'manhole' cover.

On the right; the 'pattern' used to make the impression in the sand.

Test Fitting the raw cast cover.

Finally, an enjoyable day spent in Denbigh saw the installation of the seven individual 'manhole' covers.  Tony and Paul joined me at site with all seven cast covers weighing down their car, and the rain just held off for the three hours it took to install.  Before long, local people were walking past and stopping to have a good look.   I was particularly touched when the first of the seven covers was christened by a little present from a pigeon nest above....

A big thank you to Denbighshire County Council, CADW, Emma Wynne, Mererid at Celfwaith and Geoff Wood, as well as the feedback and support from the other Artists I was involved with in the Broomhill lane project; Joss Smith, Ann Catrin Evans, Dyfed Wyn Jones.

See more Public Art Projects here...


  1. Really lovely and very interesting. I was born in Denbigh.

    1. Thanks Blodwen, lovely to hear feedback from someone local! Rebecca



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Rebecca Gouldson