Episode 96. Gas Lamps of Westminster

Join Hazel Baker as she talks with Luke Honey from the London Gasketeers about the gas lamps in Westminster and why their number is reducing.

Find out about heritage of London’s gas lamps, the different styles and how you can spot a gas lamp when out and about in London.

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Your host: Hazel Baker

Hazel is an active Londoner, a keen theatre-goer and qualified CIGA London tour guide.

She has won awards for tour guiding and is proud to be involved with some great organisations. She is a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors and am an honorary member of The Leaders Council.

She has been an expert guest on Channel 5’s Walking Wartime Britain (Episode 3) and Yesterday Channel’s The Architecture the Railways Built (Series 3, Episode 7). Het Rampjaar 1672Afl. 2: Vijand Engeland and Arte.fr Hannah Snell programme.

 

Luke Honey, one of the founders of the London Gasketeers.   Twitter: The London Gasketeers | Instagram: The London Gasketeers | Facebook: The London Gasketeers

Transcript:

London’s Gas Lamps

[00:00:00]Hazel Baker: Hello and welcome to our London History Podcast, where we share our love of London. It’s people, places, and history. It’s designed for you to learn things about London that most Londoners don’t even know. I am your host, Hazel Baker, Qualified London Tour guide and CEO and founder of londonguidedwalks.co.uk.

Each episode is supported by show notes, transcripts, photos, and further reading, sometimes even video. All to be found on our website, London Guided walks.co uk slash podcast, and then select the episode that you fancy. If you enjoy what we do, then you will love our guided walks and private tours that we offer throughout the year.

Joining me in the studio today is Luke Honey, a writer and antique specialist who has a regular column with homes and antiques. He’s also one of the founders of the London Gasketeers Hello,

[00:01:05]Luke Honey: Luke. Hi there. Hello. Thank you very much for having me today.

[00:01:10]Hazel Baker: Not at all. The wonderful gas lamps in London, they’re so iconic. I even have them on the artwork of my own podcast. This is something, people consider it to be street furniture and other people don’t even consider them at all because they’re just there. However that is at risk isn’t?

Westminster’s Gas Lamps are at risk

[00:01:27]Luke Honey: It’s a serious risk. Yeah, it’s a serious risk. I think the thing is that people, we all go about our daily lives, don’t we?

In London, we’re all terribly busy and we rush here and there and I’m very keen on the idea of people just spending three or four minutes or minutes of their day, on the way to the tube or whatever, to just look around them. And London has History, which when you start looking around, it’s for everybody and it doesn’t cost anything.

With the gas lamps, we’ll talk more about this obviously in a minute, but I’ve had so many people get in touch with me say, Do you know, I didn’t realise that London still has gas lamps? And the answer is, yes, we do. But if our campaign doesn’t succeed, certainly in Westminster, there will be no gas lamps in possibly three months’ time.There may be half the number of gas lamps that we’ve already got at the moment.  Here in London, there are about one and a half thousand Gas lamps left.

Where can you see gas lamps in London?

And they’re in three specific areas. So they’re in the Royal Parks, which again, everybody will know. We’re talking about The Mall. Actually, if you walk down the mile towards Buckingham Palace, one side of The Mall is gas and the other side is the right hand side is gas, and the side of the left is electricity.

And then you’ve got some James Park and Hyde Park, places like that, which have gas lamps. Now they’re controlled by the Royal parks. We have gas lamps in the city of London, in the temple, where of course, as all of our have air chambers. And that is still lit by gas, but that is under the authority of the City of London, Corporation.

And the remaining lamps are in the city of Westminster. So when we talk about Westminster, again, this confuses people. So you immediately start thinking, Oh, Westminster Abbey, don’t you? And when people say Westminster, they say, You think of Westminster Abbey and Big Ben and things like that.

But the city of Westminster is actually a very big borough and it goes right up. To places likePaddington then it goes right across , to Temple Bar where it then joins with the city. So it’s a big place. Within Westminster, the three gas app clusters are Covent Garden, which you said. And if you want to see Gas, probably the best place is go and have a look at them in the alleyways and the streets off of the Piazza. And then in St. James’s. Which is where all the grand old clubs are and the art dealers and people like that down near St James’s palace. And there are gas Hans in Carlton House Terrace and also Carlton Gardens, which is a really charming Square, which I recommend everybody to go and have a look at, which is completely lived by. There used to be gas dams and Crown Passage and Pickering Place. 

Unfortunately, those have been removed by council already and replaced with reproductions, which we are very sad about. And there used to be gas dams off Jermyn Street and the little alleyways, and there was a charming alleyway called Eagle Place and that was lit by gas and that had been redeveloped, near a very famous hat shop called Bates, and that redeveloped a few years ago. And I’m afraid the gas times have been lost there. And then the last area to go and look at them is down near Smith Square. So there are all these Georgian houses and very famous politicians live there.

It’s within the division belt. But they are lit by Gaslight and although the houses are Georgian, the gas lights. they are probably from about 1910 but if you go to these streets, it is how you would’ve seen the street in 1910. It hasn’t changed since then, apart from perhaps the colour of the windows, which probably would’ve been painted green in that area.

Now white. But apart from that, so it is living history, I’m afraid those lamps are under threat. And again, the council will get their way. Those will go and be replaced by. 

[00:04:52] Hazel Baker: It’s strange, isn’t it? Because these are also places that are really popular with the film production companies.

[00:04:57] Luke Honey: Yeah. So Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns isn’t it . That was shot in think it was Lord North Street, a street very close to Street down in, off Smith Square. And they’re used in films. In fact, I’ve been contacted. Film production people say, we love the gas dance because we use these streets the whole time.

 And again, of course tourists, so Goodwins court, which everybody knows which is possibly linked with Harry Potter, maybe not, but it’s the most lovely, beautiful secret place between Sir Martin’s Lane and Bedfordbury.  And it’s a 17th century alleyway.

Nell Gwynn is supposed to have lived there. It’s got three historic gas lamps. It’s just a fantastic place. Everybody goes there. The tourists love it. And if those lamps are replaced, it would be such a tragedy, I think. 

[00:05:51] Hazel Baker: Yeah it boggles my mind really because there’s something that evokes a wonderful character to the area.

I lived in Common Garden for over five years and would walk around the streets of London. Sounds a bit dodgy. I know. But walk around and enjoy those smaller streets in the dark, enjoying that light. It’s, it wraps around you, doesn’t it? 

[00:06:13] Luke Honey: They’re absolutely wonderful. If we actually talk about the light, it’s very distinctive when gas light was invented, it was supposed to replicate sunlight, that was a point. So it’s a very natural light, which your eye is get adjusted to in a very, easy way

I’ve a great friend of mine who’s a brilliant photographer. We were photographing the lights of Covent Garden, and he knows a lot more about light than I do. He’s a photographer, and he said, the light is absolutely fantastic. It doesn’t hurt your eyes, it doesn’t pixelate through the camera.

It’s just a really clean, beautiful light. It also has to stress extremely full wildlife. So creepy crawlers, insects, bats, moths. They like gas. It’s a good thing for wildlife in London. So that’s another reason why we’re very, question. Sorry. To the other question I ask people is, ok go.

We live here, we have a bedroom on the street and I say to people, Would you rather have a gas light on the outside? Or would you rather have an e light shining into your bedroom? And that’s a very interesting response to that. 

How many of these gas lamps are maintained by British gas?

[00:07:10] Hazel Baker: Yeah, I bet. And how many of these gas lamps are maintained by British gas?

[00:07:15] Luke Honey: 

Okay so we talked about one and a half thousand lights in London. So in Westminster we think there are about 275 gas lamps left and the council is saying about 300. We actually think 30 have been removed already, so we are thinking about 275, something like that.

And they’re maintained by a lovely bunch of guys. The lamplighters, 

 We’ve been down to the British Gas Depot, and had coffee with them and seen the spares and looked at their stuff.

Nicest, nicest people, very skilled. They know exactly what they’re doing. They absolutely love their lamps. And I also love the idea that they’re driving around London and everybody knows, so people wave at them. I must stress that they’re called the lamplighters because it goes back to, I think they were founded in 1813 when people went round and lit them.

So this is something I need to talk about now. So if you dunno very much about gas labs, you assume that, chat comes around with a, with a. The pole and light centre, and I think actually in the temple until fairly recently, they used to do that. But the Westin ones have an automatic ignition.

So half the gas lamps are an electronic mission. So literally at this time of year, it’s about five o’clock, isn’t it? So at five o’clock, the action will come on. But it will start. And the other half were on clockwork recognition. So they’re these incredibly well made Swiss mechanisms, which have to be wowed up every two weeks.

That sounds laborious, but I’ve spoken to the British gas guys, they said actually, to be honest with you the clockwork is more efficient, the electronic ignition, because it’s so well made that it doesn’t go wrong. Although we do have to go around and mine them up within two weeks, they just go on and on.

And I’ve actually got one on my desk. There’s beautiful quality made in Switzerland. And don’t, by the way, think that they’re. Hundreds of years old. They’re not, they’re carried on making them until whenever, but they’re just saying that the, in a way that actually, although, they could all be converted to electronic ignition if that was needed.

But in a way, the clock works beautifully. So let’s know, why not keep that? And also it is green. I, you can’t get greener than how mound me. So I hope that clears a lot for people. 

How can you tell whether there’s one that’s electrically ignited or that’s a windup?

[00:09:17] Hazel Baker: How can you tell whether there’s one that’s electrically ignited or that’s a windup?

[00:09:20] Luke Honey: Oh, that’s a really good question. So when, and I want everybody to start going around looking at gas lamps, and by the way, do, because you mainly have two months left to do it in Westminster. The clockwork mechanism is like a circular brass box is the best way of putting it.

Which you’ll see in the lamp sometimes they’re painted black, sometimes they’re brass, but it’s like a sort of circular brass metal container. And then inside that is the mechanism. Again, the world of gas lamps is complicated. If we talk about Rochester, maybe we can talk about different types of gas lamps now.

Rochester Gaslamp | Credit Luke Honey

And then I’ll explain about that. The roughly three types of gas outside in London. There’s Rochester, which is one you’ll see. I love that. It’s one of my favourite gas lamps. It’s one which looks, it’s a tall elegant thing with a sort of top, looks a bit like an Edwardian lady’s hat.

Do you know what I mean? I do, yeah. Brian Scrolls. Underneath. And those date from about the late 19th century to the early 20th century. And it was a very clever design. So they, what they did was essentially they inverted the mantle, which is the little bulbs where the gas is burnt. And so that light shines down onto the street, which is a clever idea, and the clockwork mechanism is still there, but it’s actually in a box within the, So it’s a very clever design.

Goodwins’ Court, showing a Grosvenor. Photo Credit: Miles Morgan

You’ve then got the Grosvenor, which is the one in the parks, and that’s the one with all the detailing on it, and sometimes in the parks they are gilded.

Windsor Gaslamp, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. Credit- Miles Morgan

And then the other one the Windsor which I really love, which is a classic sort of Dickensian lantern. Why I’m particularly keen on those, if you go and walk around the alleyways of Covent garden. These alleyways tend to have these winds. As they were picking pace. And there, there’s a variation on design cause they tend to be longer, quite long and they have lovely detailing, like little sort of grecian brackets on the top.

And unfortunately the council’s replicas are just generic. They don’t feature these things and they don’t also replicate the shape. So with these three lanterns, there are variations on all of these lanterns, and some of them have these, another one I can mention is incredibly rare.

Rare Passage Lamp in Westminster

Rare Passage off St James’s Street | Credit – Luke Honey

There’s something called a passage lamp. And that was designed for Victorian London in the 1880s. We think there’s maybe only one left now. It’s a. sort of bracket lantern that was attached to the wall.

Then it had a reflection behind it to increase the light. Then it had a spike on top and again, they love these sort of grecian and decoration. And these would’ve gone up in the 1890s in Victorian passage waves and alleyways to light, and they were designed specifically for London. We think there is only one left now, St James’s.

In an alleyway. James, there used to be one in Crown Passage, and I’m afraid that has been removed by the council and replaced with a sort of, I think it’s the, like a Windsor with the top taken off, which doesn’t look anything like it. So one of our problems with the council’s plan which they want, basically taking out all the gas lanterns and replacing them with reproductions with LED light inside, is that they don’t, they keep saying it’s gonna be like for like the, and.

You won’t be able to tell the difference. And the trouble is we’ve seen the New Lanterns sort of and there are some substantial differences, particularly also to the Windsors which in the alleyways, and if that’s they’re ripped out. The replacements, I’m afraid, do not look like the original. So it’s a sort of variety, which is just being replaced by homogenised three standard patterns, which I’m very sad about.

[00:12:36] Hazel Baker: I didn’t know about those passage ones. That’s 

[00:12:38] Luke Honey: brand new to me this is the thing. There was one in Crown Passage. It’s incredibly rare. It’s. Just gone. Unfortunately it wasn’t listed. British people and they said we think that’s probably the last one. There might be one or two others, but I have the, any. No. So I’m very sad about that. And it’s another reason, why we are so determined to persuade the council to to change their views, Let’s put it that way.

[00:12:59] Hazel Baker: . And you mentioned the different ages of these street lamps with the Yeah. Smith Square being 1910. What’s the oldest?

[00:13:07] Luke Honey: So again, we need to. Correct some misconceptions here. So the thing to understand about gas lamps, and again, the council just doesn’t seem to understand this at all, so it’s not a question of these lamps being a hundred years old, this lamp’s 200 years old.

The point is that the poles are often sometimes older. So if you go down to Carlton Gardens, which is that lovely little. Square, which I recommend everybody go. The polls there are George IV fourth, so they’re really early. But they’ve got Grosvenors on the top, but then the Grosvenor might date from 1890, something like that. The other thing to understand is that they carry on making the patterns. So you might see a growth there and think, Oh, that looks really Victorian, but it may be made in 19. Because they’re carrying on making the patterns.

Grosvenor, Bull Inn Court, Covent Garden. Photo- Miles Morgan

And then the other thing to understand is that the British cast team go and maintain them. So quite often you might have a poll, which is, 1850 or something, a top, which looks 1890, but probably 1930s. And then you might actually have the operating system inside, which was only updated 10 years ago or something, because that always has been taking them.

You might. And then they might have put an electric ignition three years ago. And Laurie might have driven into the side particularly of the Rochesters and damaged the lantern and then they may have replaced half this. So they’re working things, so they’re not preserved in as, and that’s what we are trying to get across.

And some of them are so the ones in Pickering Place, which were removed we think dated from 1890 and we’ve got photographs and we think. They were actually original from that period. The Growthness and Goodwins Court to probably 1910, maybe earlier 1900. But it’s quite hard to be very specific about it.

And then again, if you look at those ones, the mantles are replaced on a regular basis. The mantles, by the way, again, do you remember the good old Hollywood? So the gas lamps there have a sort of open flame and you probably don’t have which is actually not. They did have open flame gas in London, but by the late 19th century, they’d invented the mantle systems, which was much, much more efficient.

So again, that’s something we need to get across. This idea about emissions, this idea that gas lamps are The burner on your stove. It just ain’t true. of spewing lots of stuff out. They’re very efficient and very tightly controlled. So the gas goes up the pipe and then it goes into your little, four little glass bulbs or.

Sometimes there are more, And then there’s a sort of silk mesh which is dipped in chemicals and then the gas ignite and it burns in a very efficient way. It’s a bit, in a way, like a light bulb burning inside the thing. It was a clever invention that way. They produced the gas lamps much, much more efficiently.

So there are very few open gas lamps left in London. I think there’s one outside Albany, Piccadilly there is one outside the National Gallery. But again, that was put in the 1980s, we think. So made by Suggs who’s a very famous company that made all the gas lamps. So London, the gas lamps are going to be mans. They’re efficient.

Where the first gas lamps were in London? 

[00:15:54] Hazel Baker: and do we know where the first gas lamps were in London? 

[00:15:58] Luke Honey: We do so the very first gas lighting, I think also in the World Street Gas lighting was in Pall Mall in 1807 and so there was a gentleman called Frederick Windsor. If you, again, as a guide, you’ll notice if you walk down on the right hand side, isn’t there?

There’s a up then in one of the clubs. So it was the first time they actually had gas and I think the gas went through wooden pipes. And then, there were cartoons like Gil Ray and people like that , who did cartoons with people.

Terrified by the new gas lamps. And that was the first place, which again makes it so sad about Crown passage because where the gas lamps were removed from Crown passage were, literally where gas lighting in the world was born, yards away from it. And these lamps were ripped up and replaced by the l e d lights.

So that’s particularly ironic. But yeah, that’s where it was. So again, so it’s in London’s history, it’s part of London’s fabric. This is where gas lighting was first demonstrated to the world. 

[00:16:50] Hazel Baker: Yeah. Very exciting. And then of course, Paris benefited afterwards. 

[00:16:55] Luke Honey: Yes, that’s right. 

[00:16:57] Hazel Baker: And what are your favourite gas lamps? 

[00:16:59] Luke Honey: And actually I’m always getting to the stage now where I actually have a particular favourite one. It sounds really sad, but I’d be looking at lamps so much now. So I like Rochester cause I think they’re the ones I spoke about earlier.

So if you go to Cecil Court outside Tim Bryan’s book shop, there’s the most beautiful Rochester with lovely. Work, it looks like something for Ronald sell car. It’s got that elegance of that almost end of century art, new elegance about it. And I think it’s a classic London lamp. So film buff.

So I was watching the blue lamp with Dirk Bogart, which was shot I think in 1949. He was filmed in Little Venice. I hadn’t seen the film before. There were masses of gas lamps all over, Little Venice, down by the canal of Bloomfield Road, places like that. And they were all Rochesters they all would’ve gone probably in the 1960s I would afford.

So that was fun. But I’m also very keen on mentioning the passage lamp. Keen, I’m keen, which alleyways so LAN’s, very Dickensian, how you imagine Victorian London. And again, they’re getting quite rare. I just have a theory that maybe why some of these survived the blitz was because they were down passageways. So when the bomb, because many of the auditors were actually destroyed or during the war, in the blitz and then replaced after the war.

But the, some of these lamps, I think down the back the passageways and in little squares may have been shielded to some extent from bomb damage. Just a theory I have. But again, if we lose those, that would be so sad. , And then as a tour guide, taking people around, you’ve come to London to soak up its history and walk down an alleyway and, Oh, that’s a reproduction.

I just think it’s very sad. 

[00:18:42] Hazel Baker: I agree. We do get people asking where the best place to, to walk and enjoy the gas lamps, they want to invoke a time gone by. 

[00:18:51] Luke Honey: Covent Garden is a great place to look at it. Electricity and all sorts going on. I think you’re a purist. You know the streets like Lord North Street who Gayhurst her street down by square.

Cause you are literally looking at the street how it would’ve been in 1910 they’re all, they were Rochesters down there, the Georgian buildings. , as I said earlier, and apart from the colour of front doors and the windows, which I suspect probably would’ve been a sort of bronze style green rather than white.

But apart from that, it is like going into a complete time warp but I must also stress that the lamps work perfectly well. So this idea that they’re all falling to bits is just not true, walking these streets they’re all working absolutely fine and. 

[00:19:32] Hazel Baker: Why are we seeing fewer gas lamps on the streets now?

[00:19:35] Luke Honey: What’s happening? A lot of them were taken so we got the 2 75 left in Westminster. A lot of them were removed, weren’t they, in the 1960s. So that sort of era wasn’t there. A great modernisation and redevelopment in the sixties. And I, in a huge part of the London work world with it. Rebuilt in the 1960s.

I think by the 1930s it was about half and half in London. So 50% were gas and 50% were electricity. As a campaigner. We’re  realistic. We’re not saying let’s. Put gas everywhere across London. Of course, we’re not. But always a saying is that these lamps have so few left.

Now they’re very sensitive historic areas. To lose them, to take out a gas lamp yards from St James’s palace or in Goodwins court or those lovely streets. It just, particularly when this country is known for its history and its heritage and its arts, 

[00:20:23] Hazel Baker: and what’s happening to them when they’re being removed?

[00:20:26] Luke Honey: Good question. We just don’t know. We do have photographs of some of them just being taken away on the cart, two lovely old Grosvenors I think that was from, we have a photograph, Justed onto the back of the lorry and removed we just dunno whether what’s going on, what’s happening to them.

[00:20:42] Hazel Baker: And what’s the argument for replacing the gas lamps? Okay, 

[00:20:45] Luke Honey: So the council are absolutely hell Ben, on doing it. So what they want to do, they want, So just to be transparent about it, everybody knows what’s happening. So they’re keeping the polls? Yeah. So they want to keep the poles and they take the lantern off, which is the top bit and then replace the lantern with a reproduction with l e d lighting inside.

So that’s what they’re doing. They’re not planning to remove the whole thing. But in the case, obviously of the ones attached to the walls, the whole thing on trade is going. And I’m afraid also the brackets, which again, I’m really

just replaced. And the Crown passage one, again, That’s cool. So my lovely Windsors, which I like in these back alley ways, will just be completely. In the case, obviously of the listed, so again, we talk about the listing, so half of the lamps are listed about that, maybe a bit more.

140 lamps, 150 lamps, something like that are listed. So the council does intend to change those as well. But to do that, they need to negotiate with Historic England to be allowed to do that. I can’t comment on that. That is a matter between Historic England and the Council. But they have made it clear that they want to also convert the The listed ones as well.

They have made that, they have made that very clear. 

[00:21:58] Hazel Baker: I’ve got something in the back of my mind about the Cove Garden Piazza, when that was designed. Yeah. It was actually through the architect’s specific request to use gas lamps. And they’ve got a special dispensation for that. 

[00:22:11] Luke Honey: Yes. I think you’re. I think that’s absolutely right.

As part of the redevelopment, Cause of course the other thing, as was that co they were gonna put a mo right with the middle of the whole, in the 1970s it was. And they were gonna drive the most way right through the middle of it. And thank God, I love to live. I’d love to live in common.

I think it’s a wonderful place, and thank God that a whole group of quite, sort of tough protesters went out on the streets and stopped it from happening. Had a few people saying this is a first world problem, and then more important things to worry about than gas lamps.

But I would just say in the 1970s with Covent Garden, there was the Vietnam War, oil crisis, all sorts of terrible things going on in the seventies, particularly the economy. And yet people did save it. I’m really, that they did. If they hadn’t, that area would’ve just completely flattened a motorway and all sorts of redevelopment.

And it’s an amazing bit of London and I absolutely love it. And the architecture’s fantastic and people love it. It’s also brilliant for the tourists, isn’t it? It’s one of the gems that we have in London. The gas lamps were then saved by people like Dan Cruikshank in the 1970s along with the Covent Garden plan to save Covent Garden

and it was about 1974 I think. So Dan Cruikshank was evolved then with it and he’s now helping us with the campaign. And it’s sad for him that having saved it, he’s got to now try and save it all over. . But at the time, there was a period afterwards in the 1980s where I think the council then thought the gas lamps were very much an asset to the area.

But going back to the reason why they’re doing it, so the council they talk about emissions. Which again, I need to really get the facts right about this. So obviously, we have a climate emergency and we’re all green. We all want to do our best, but the thing I have to stress is that the actual emissions that come off a gas lamp are absolutely tiny.

So we have a statistic of 8% of Westminster’s overall emissions, certainly under 1%. It’s absolutely. Minimal. People go around and say, Oh, we gotta save them, then get these gas lamps emitting. They’re not, yes, they are emitting something that’s true, but it’s a very small amount.

So that’s point number one. The second point is carbon footprint. Obviously we are arguing that if you just leave things alone, it’s obviously better for the carbon footprint than if you have to manufacture things. Put in electricity and make and the lawyers have to come.

So that’s and we are also arguing again that from an environmental point of view, as I said earlier, that. The gas light is extremely good for insects and biodiversity and natural sleep patterns. And again, I know if I was in, I’d much rather have a gas lamp outside my bedroom than an LED light.

We like creepy crawlies. We want that. We want to encourage that. The second argument the council are coming up with, which I think frankly is absurd I will say that is the public safety argument. So they’re saying that the gas lights don’t emit enough light and therefore people will walk in fear in the streets.

And I, all I can say to you is a guide. What do you think about that? If you walk through Cord, for example Cecil Court is lit by, because the whole thing about Covent Garden is that everywhere you go, there’s light coming in from shops and restaurants and offices, isn’t there? In the case where you might have a very small gloomy passageway and crown passage, I think it is a good example.

There was a, the Red Lion pub down there, and a counsellor said to me that they’d had, I think, five complaints in three years. And that’s because it’s about a passageway where there’s a pub, and I think some people, perhaps five people over three years, didn’t feel particularly safe. That, but what we would say to that is put an electric light. We don’t have a problem. Keep the gas light, put an extra light. Why remove all the gas lights in Westminster because of three problem spots, but to assume that. There are these sort of safety problems all over Westminster because of the gas lights. It’s just absurd. I, you walk down Tavistock Street by the Drury Lane Theatre which I’d photograph the other day and I put a film up on Instagram of it.

Again, actually, people go look at my film and make your own mind up. But I mean to you, London is probably better than I do since you walk around and to, to you. Have you ever felt, have you ever felt threatened by. Gas lights? 

[00:26:26] Hazel Baker: Not for that. I haven’t felt it, because there isn’t enough light.

There are 632 official CCTV cameras in Westminster. It’s the bur. And it’s never the lack of light that is a problem. It’s humans and they usually drink too much as well. That is the problem. I’ve never felt unsafe because of the lack of light from. These lamps. 

[00:26:48] Luke Honey: What we are saying, so you know, we, again, we’re reasonable people. So we’re saying like example in the Crown Passage incident where. A case where there may have been some problems, there’s a pub there and whatever.

But we just said add extra lighting, just put in spotlights, put in extra light, but don’t remove the gas lights. I was then told by the council, Oh, we can’t do that because of planning. Because of listed buildings. So I said that’s just absurd. I know the listed buildings in the gas lamp area.

I’ve gone through them very closely and I’ve got a pretty good idea where listed buildings are and they are here and there. But then Crown Passage, you got Quebec house on either side which is not listed. So there’s no reason why LAMP couldn’t have gone up there.

 I just think it’s an excuse. I really do. It’s just not good enough to be honest with you. I just don’t think it’s a genuine reason. And I say if there are problems, then obviously add electric lights, but don’t rip out, for example, Cecil Court it’s perfectly well lit.

Tourists love it. People come there as I’ve spent an afternoon in Tim Bryant’s book shop, having a nice glass of wine every five minutes. Americans come in, Canadians, Germans who just love it, and they’ve come to soak up the atmosphere . And we’ve told them, by the way, the council wants to remove that gas lamp and they’re just horrified.

What can we do to save the gas lamps?

[00:27:57] Hazel Baker: So what can we do to save the gas lamps?

[00:28:00] Luke Honey: I hope I’ve given you a sort of idea of what’s going on. We won a reprieve a year ago. So now I’m afraid of the final stages of the whole thing. Our next consultation is going to be on Thursday.

There’ll be three consultations where again, my stress council are only showing. It’s not really a proper consultation. There’s no option to keep the old gas lamps, it’s merely a consultation to come and look at our new lovely replicas and that’s on Thursday and then the public have up until November the 20th to get their views across to the council.

And then I think the council will make a decision. You would need to check the council. I believe there is gonna be a vote here. So our plan as a group, obviously we want to get lots of public support and get people to get in contact with the council directly and just tell them their views and say, we are very unhappy about this.

And, we are about to lose a really important part of London’s history. And once it’s gone, you won’t be able to get it back again. That’s it. 

[00:28:57] Hazel Baker: I’ll provide all the links necessary in the show notes for the podcast. 

[00:29:02] Luke Honey: And I can also say, I can give you a link to, there’s an excellent website Christopher Sugg who’s the descendant of the original Sugg family that made the lamps.

He’s got a fantastic website of all history, everything you need to know about gas lamps. So I can give you a link to that as well so people can click on it and learn much more about their history. It is much greater. I, 

[00:29:20] Hazel Baker: Hopefully you’ve wetted people’s appetites now and given them a cause of getting into action here.

So Luke, thank you very, very much.

[00:29:27] Luke Honey: Not at, Thank you.

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