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Hydrantology for Beginners


Never stand between a dog and the hydrant. John Peers ­ 1001 Logical Laws

All photos Š Martina Jackmuth www.blackandwhiteandcolours.de

Cover: Streetart in Weissenburg, France, 2010


Merriam­Webster at www.merriam­webster.com says: "a discharge pipe with a valve and spout at which water may be drawn from a water main (as for fighting fires) —called also fireplug"

The Online Etymology Dictionary at www.etymonline.com says: "1806, a hybrid coined in Amer.Eng. from Gk. hydr­, stem of hydor "water" (see water (n.1)) + ­ant."

Wikipedia says at en.wikipedia.org: "The invention of a post­ or pillar­type fire hydrant is generally credited to Frederick Graff Sr., Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Works around the year 1801."

Hydrants might also be used as art installations.

Hydrant manufactured by Erhard GmbH & Co.KG, Heidenheim an der Brenz, Germany. Beer is a "Wulle Bier" ­ brewed by Dinkelacker­Schwaben Bräu, Stuttgart, Germany ­ never heard of it before, though. Rest area, German Autobahn, 2012.


Hydrants cast wonderful shadows in low winter light. They rust in beautiful colours. Manufacturer is unknown. DIN is Deutsche Industrienorm (since 1917) and DRP ist Deutsches Reichspatentamt (until 1945, then Deutsches Patent­ und Markenamt). The German national organization for standardization and the German national patent office. Steelworks, VÜlklingen, Germany, 2009.


The modern German hydrant is clear in its lines, without superfluous embellishment. Timeless elegance as the manufacturer describes it. The pillar still is made out of cast iron, while the protective mantle is out of stainless steel. I fear these hydrants never rust. Often the hydrant is guarded by two or more red足white poles. Four of all German hydrant manufactures hold 70% of the market share, btw.

This type of hydrant is manufactured by Schmieding Armaturen GmbH, Holzwickede, Germany. All newly installed hydrants in Mainz have this almost futuristic design. Mainz, Germany, 2012.


Of course, the aforementioned timeless elegance doesn't work well with old medieval towns. Therefore most of the manufacturers also offer a "Nostalgia" line 足 the "Altstadthydrant", "old town hydrant". And yes, hydrant is the same in German. This one is made by VAG足Armaturen GmbH, Mannheim, Germany, designed after the "Modell Reuther" from 1885. Dinkelsb端hl, Germany, 2012


Another fine specimen of a German hydrant. It's installed at the Kloster Eberbach, a monastery. In the winter of 1985/86 the interior scenes of the film "The Name of the here. Hydrant's manufacturer is AVK Mittelmann Armaturen GmbH, W端lfrath, Germany and Eberbach Abbey, Germany, 2012. BUT ... most of the German hydrants are located below

former Cistercian Rose" were filmed I took the photo at ground ...


On the left you can see the typical German hydrant: below ground or underfloor as we call it. The first one is closed. Of course. The manhole cover is always labeled "Hydrant" to distinguish it from all the other manhole covers you might find in our streets and sidewalks. Germany is small so things tend to get crammed. Again the Eberbach Abbey, Germany, 2012.

An underfloor hydrant in action. Not only the firefighters use them but anyone who gets the permission. In fact this one provided water for a toilet trailer at the famous carnival in Mainz. As I think about it the red above ground hydrants might be only accessible to the firefighters. Not sure about that, though. Firefighters use the underfloor hydrants as well. Mainz, Germany, 2012.


A naked underfloor hydrant. Mainz, Germany, 2009.


Its clothes. Mainz, Germany, 2009.


And some hydrants are simply beautiful. Hunsr端ck, Germany, 2011.

Hydrantology for Beginners  

Everything you ever wanted to know about German hydrants. "Advanced hydrantology - How to find a hydrant" soon.

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