A walk around Spitalfields is always rewarding. The curious mind can learn so much by paying close attention to the buildings, the stall holders, the passers-by, the street art or the rooftops. But how many of us take the trouble to study the stones beneath our feet?
These metal discs can be found all over the wider Spitalfields area. Each contains a motif plucked from Spitalfields's history.
The discs resemble coal hole covers — metal features which can still be found all over the older parts of London. They mark the location of coal chutes, which were once used by delivery men to pour coal from the roadside down into the cellars.
The Spitalfields discs are more recent. Each is the work of Keith Bowler, a local sculptor. The artist made 25 roundels in total, as part of a 1995 cultural festival.
About half of the discs have since gone missing, partly thanks to insensitive pavement replacement. Those that remain depict local industries and episodes from history. They are a joy to track down.
The ever-superb Spitalfields Life has an interview with Bowler from 2010.
All photos by the author.