Old British-made Inspection Covers | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Old British-made Inspection Covers

Rambling around Hong Kong, one can come across a few oddities along roads, footpaths, pavements etc. Some of these oddities are old British-made inspection covers. Here are a few that are still around:

Broads (Former Victoria Barracks)

Broads Inspection Cover


John Jones (Former BMH on Borret Road, Museum of Teaware (Flagstaff House) & Gun Club Hill Barracks)

John Jones Inspection Cover


Needham (Wylie Path towards Wylie Court and Rugby Grounds)

Needham Inspection Cover


For further information on British-made inspection covers please see:



ha I'm glad someone else spends their time looking at manhole covers! there's another british one on ship street staircase. I think it's a needham one - pretty sure there's another on queen's road east in wanchai near there too

Stanton Inspection Cover

There's a bunch along lower albert road and leading around St Paul's Cathedral. All shapes and sizes.

It started off innocently enough a couple of years back, looking out for ARP tunnels as I moved around Hong Kong.

Last year Phil suggested we keep an eye out for shophouses, and that seemed a good idea too.

Then earlier this year T noticed these odd marker stones around Aberdeen reservoir, followed by the stone lot-boundary markers. Can't hurt to watch out for those.

Now this weekend Moddsey's introduced us to the delights of old fire hydrants and inspection covers....

I think Gwulo.com needs a disclaimer. See if this sounds right:

Reading this site may significantly increase
your risk of being run over by a bus.

Haha, looking into these often-neglected items is surely fun!

I wonder if any Rediffusion inspection cover survives?  As you know, Rediffusion built a network of underground cables for radio and television since the 1940s.  I remember seeing covers with an "R" about 20 years ago.  I believe the Rediffusion company that manages the underground cables was not merged into Asia TV, but is now part of Cable TV (part of The Wharf group).

there are still old rediffusion covers around. they have a distinctive (and very sixties) large 'R' on them and not much else. I saw one the other day in tsim sha tsui outside the main construction gates of the huge shopping centre that's going up on granville road (I think) just off nathan road. It's called something dumb like The One.

rediffusion became RTV and eventually ATV


Hi 80sKid, Thank you for the link to the web site! I am glad to know that some Rediffusion covers survived. I believe that some parts of the Rediffusion organisation did not join Asia Television. I googled and found the following three companies listed as subsidiaries in the 2005 annual report of i-Cable Communications Limited: Rediffusion Engineering Limited (principal activities: systems installation and operation) Rediffusion (Hong Kong) Limited (principal activities: cable television relay services) Rediffusion Satellite Services Limited (principal activities: satellite television systems) Also, I distinctly remember seeing a Rediffusion service outlet beside Hopewell Centre in Wan Chai in mid-1980s, well after the advent of Asia TV. Does anyone know more about these companies?

Nexxus Building Des Voeux Rd Central, near Pottinger St (inverted)

Rediffusion Inspection Cover (Large)


Junction of Des Voeux Rd Central and Jubilee St

Rediffusion Inspection Cover (small) with Fire Hydrant

A different version on Hollywood Rd, near Man Mo Temple

Stanton Inspection Cover


Sai Yeung Choi St North outside Police Sports and Recreation Club

Hopkins Inspection Cover


Junction of Connaught Rd Central and Pottinger St

Hopkins Inspection Cover

On Old Beacon Hill Rd

Needham (round)

Needham Inspection Cover (Round)



Kenneth Inspection Cover


Charlton Ironworks - Nga Tsin Wai Village

Charlton Inspection Cover


Needham -Boundary St, near Embankment Rd (lines & shadows)

Needham Ispection Cover


Needham - Western (No 7) Police Staion

Needham Inspection Cover

Just wondering, have you got any idea how old these might be?

Regards, David

Hi there,

I saw two of these up at Peel Rise close to the Old Peak Fire Station earlier today.  I didn't take any picture as it had been raining.

Best Regards,


Dudley Dowell - Carnarvon Rd, TST

Dudley Dowell Inspection Cover


Rowinsons - off Chi Wo St, Jordan

Rowinsons Inspection Cover


Simply Kenneth, St Andrew's Church, Nathan Rd 

Kenneth Inspection Cover (Simple)


W & B Cowan - Lugard Road entrance/exit of Peak Walk

This appears to be a gas meter inspection cover. From the web, the firm W & B Cowan was exporting gas meters as early as 1894 and changed its name to Parkinson and W & B Cowan limited in 1902.

W & B Cowan Inspection Cover

Not sure what might be under that one - it has a certain 'R.I.P' feel about it, especially given the location!

I came across this manhole cover with a diamond shaped image in a building in Tai Hang, Causeway Bay.  The funny thing is that it is placed inside the building's front gate.  I believe that it is from the colonial days, but wonder which department / organization it belongs to.  Does anyone have a clue?


The manhole cover with the diamond-shaped image belongs to Cheung Hing Foundry (CHF). The Company was founded in 1958. In some buildings that I have seen that were built during the 1950s and 1960s, it is not uncommon to see a manhole cover at the entrance to the building.

Website: http://www.chf.com.hk/company.html


R.S.I.L Calcutta, off Plunketts Road, Peak

R.S.I.L Calcutta Inspection Cover

Dudley & Dowell, Cradley Heath, Staffordshire - St John's Cathedral

Dudley & Dowell Inspection Cover

Dudley & Dowell, Cradley Heath, Staffordshire - St John's Cathedral

Dudley Dowell Inspection Cover (Irregular Shape)










Rare Hong Kong Waterworks Fire Hydrant Inspection Cover -Old Peak Rd

Hong Kong Waterworks Fire Hydrant Inspection Cover


A random photo from this page reminded me of a temp job I had in the early 1990s, working for an Australian company in East Kowloon. Basically we worked overnight for several months, lifting every sewer cover in a square kilometre radius, photographing the contents on Polaroid and recording the condition with mirrors on poles. A few of them we visited every night, as they had monitors inside that we connected to a laptop and uploaded the data. Some of the stuff we saw was pretty nightmarish - big eels washed back from the harbour, and other writhing creatures. We had to close up and go home around 6am, just before the public housing estates began flushing en masse.

I remember noticing that some of the covers we lifted (the square type, divided into two triangles) were made in the UK.

St. John's Hospital, Cbeung Chau

R.S.I.L. Calcutta Inspection Cover

Hi there!

Manhole cover with circumferential studs on the cover means STORM WATER DRAIN whereas rectangular studs for FOUL WATER DRAIN.

If you would see some manhole covers bear info like:

1) 550-110, it means clear opening size is 550mm and 110mm in thickness height

2) C250 - C=heavy duty grade of min 5mm thickness capable to withstand 250KN load

For manholes to be used for privated building, you will normally not able to see project info message, just a manhole with the logo sign or some general description. However, for publics works/govt project, manhole cover should normally bear some texts like:

PWDHK=Public Works Dept of HK

CV=Civil Engineering Works Dept

EDD=Enginnering Development Dept

TDD=Territory Development Dept

HKHA=HK Housing Authority

- and more depts -

If you would see the manhole with some kind of info like : CV/88/18, that means the manhole was built for Civil Eng Works Dept for the Contract no. CV/88/18 and the contract was the 18th project contracted out in year 1988 by the dept. Similar interpretation to other Depts as well.

Thanks JW, I didn't know that before!

Regards, David


The knowledge hebind is intriguing. I would like to talk further as below:

1) a big trunk road consisting of sizable carriageway lanes will of course occuply a large ground surface area, if raining, the rain water would be immense, so the underground manhole chamber is also big in order to accomodate the water flows, if the chamber is big, manhole cover needs bigger as well. If the manhole cover is very big, people can not lift such a large cover, so one big manhole cover will be divided to multiple cover units, say 6 to 10 nos, that is called "multi-part cover".

2) for small manhole cover, it is opened by prying the side edges that bear a slot indent. If the cover is more larger and prying is difficult, the cover will be designed to have key holes on the top of the cover so one or two men will use pulling rods to hook the key holes for lifting the cover. However, for manholes covers located in walking areas, key holes will normally be covered by sealing plugs, so the lady's shoe heel will not jam into it. You can see sealing plugs if you take a notice at your nearby areas.

3) The sludge at manhole chamber's bottom do contain sediments of valuable stuffs such as pendants, coins, finger rings. Workers use acid to etch clean the dirty built-up on the collected coins.

4) It is told that in Australia, sometimes sewage worker could see crocodile in manhole and nullah as baby crocs were inadvertently entered to the sewage system.

5) sometimes manholes covers do relate to us, even getting a job! Microsoft human resources dept had questioned a candidate of asking why manhole covers are always in round shape (perhaps US use round cover)? David, do you know why? Please guess...


Hi JW,

"why manhole covers are always in round shape?"

I'll guess it's the easiest shape to fit back in the hole - no need to align it very carefully. Do I get the job at Microsoft??

Regards, David

Dear David

If the inspection cover is rectangular shape and you inadvertently twisted the cover in certain angles when placing, the cover could have dropped down to the manhole chamber if the base side is rested on the diagonal side since diagonal side is longer than the base side by 41%. It sounds plausible but in fact Microsoft does not know that the retangular inspection cover has a edge seater support located below the cover so it does not fall down to chamber if it is twisted.

You have been doing well in gwulo.com and no need to bother Microsoft.

Regards, JW

Aha, that makes sense.

Thanks for the explanation - no Microsoft job for me then!

Regards, David

Only got round to looking at manhole covers today, after what must be more than half a decade since David first talked about them. 

This thread mentioned lots around Pottinger St and Des Voeux Road, but I fail to find all of those which appear here.  Have some been removed these last few years?

But I do manage to find some others on Queen Victoria Street.  This Rediffusion cover is on the corner with Queen's Road Central. 

Rediffusion_Queen_Victoria_St_Queen's_Rd_C.jpg, by breskvar

This one is worn out, but one can still see the 'Needham' name, on Queen Victoria Street outside some sort of boxing shop. 

Needham_Queen_Victoria_St.jpg, by breskvar

Then there is this 'BK' cover on Connaught Road not far from Pottinger Street.  I don't seem to see people talking about BK here before.  What history does it have?  or does it not have?

BK_Connaught_Rd_Pottinger_St..jpg, by breskvar

Finally I found another Kenneth up on Wyndham Street, basically opposite The Centrium.

Kenneth_Wyndham_St..jpg, by breskvar

I was going to look for more, but then I got hungry and called it quits.


Is the manhole cover at http://gwulo.com/atom/23313  made  by my family's company in Hong Kong in the 1930s and found earlier by moddsey eligible for this thread? It would have been made after my grandfather's death when my uncle, Leslie Warren, was managing the company. I don't know if any there are still any others around in Hong Kong.




Yes, that deserves to be seen on this page too:

C E Warren & Co. Drain Cover
C E Warren & Co. Drain Cover, by Moddsey

Hi There,

I have been working in the Kwun Tong area for more than 15 years.  Until quite recently, I have never spotted one of these along Kwun Tong Road. It is just outside the Grande Building on west bound Kwun Tong Road, near the Hong Ning Road junction.


inspection_cover.jpg, by tngan

While I sailed with Jardines on their Bay of Bengal service in the late  50s and early 60s locally made inspection covers were one of he very few manufactured goods we ever loaded in Calcutta.  Sewing  machines and electric  fans were others. These covers were shipped  loose  or in very flimsy crates in the tweendecks and were very awkward to secure though I do not remember there being many breakages

Hi There,

Saw one of these smaller ones just outside the PCCW\Western District Telephone Exchange building in Sheung Wan, on Morrison Street.  If there is a year stamp the one I saw was dated 94.

DSCF3016.JPG, by tngan


Hi There,

Don't know what it is.  Saw it in QRW at the Bird's Bridge area, on the north side of the road.

DSCF3008.JPG, by tngan


Hi There,

Spotted a pair of these in Bonham Strand, not far away from the Telco Exchange.  Don't know if it has anything to do with the demolished loo.

DSCF3012.JPG, by tngan
aussie_cover.jpg, by tngan