‘Drain spotter’ bids to stop history being flushed away

Calvin Payne. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

Calvin Payne. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

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Britain’s only “drain spotter” is hoping to set a precedent by convincing English Heritage to “list” drains.

For the past six years Calvin Payne has scoured the streets of Sheffield, hunting for rare drain covers from the 19th century.

He is now preparing a case to present to English Heritage to list the drains he’s discovered – to protect them from a road-resurfacing programme in the city.

Mr Payne, 42, who works for a Sheffield housing association, said: “I know drain spotting sounds like a strange hobby, but right under our feet there are genuine Victorian artefacts which nobody even notices.

“Old post boxes and gas lamps, they get recognition because they are at eye level.

“But, the fact is, many of these drains are much older and they are being pulled up from the streets and melted down without a second thought. There’s nothing to say that English Heritage can’t list drains – it’s just that nobody’s done it before.”

Calvin’s obsession began when he discovered a drain near his house in Sheffield which dated back to 1838.

He has not yet ventured out of Sheffield in his quest, but fears drains will be disappearing “at a rate of knots” in other areas and urges people to take an interest.

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