Saturday, 25 November 2017

A Gaslight Story: London's Last Gas Lamps


video from youtube uploaded by Londonist Ltd.

I've always been fascinated with gas lamps, or even the earlier lamps that used candles. It is romantic just to think of the way they did things back in the olden days, I imagine a man in old-fashioned clothing going about his task of manually lighting the lamps every evening, using a wick on a long pole, and returning to put them out at dawn. Eras like this I often associate with a lot of things being accomplished, when life was simpler, slower, and less stressful.
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder London's last gas lamps history
London gas lamps, photo taken 19th November 2017

There are still 1500 functioning gas lamps left in London, the oldest being in Westminster Abbey. Above is a very interesting youtube video uploaded by Londonist Ltd. about these lamps being looked after by British Gas engineers, our modern day lamplighters/keepers of the light. A lot of these lamps still have mechanical clocks that need rewinding every 14 days. I haven't researched how much it is to maintain these lamps, but I'm guessing that we are simply lucky to still have them in a world of budget cuts and not have them replaced by electric lamps instead. We tend to take things for granted till we know the history behind them.

The photo on the right is one I took in London last Sunday, I don't know if they're old lamps (indeed the local authority in London is also installing new "old" lamps) and I'm guessing that as they are at someone's house, they're not one of those "historical lamps" that British Gas looks after. Says one of the keepers, “It’s amazing that they still exist, really. They all systematically started being ripped out a few decades ago, but thankfully at some point, someone said: ‘Hold on! We need to keep a bit of our history here.' And here we are.” 

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