A long time ago, London was lit by gas lamps – but with the advent of electricity the use of gas for lighting streets fell out of favour. However, there are still parts of London which are still lit to this very day by gas lamps.

There is quite a good cluster of them around The Strand and I spent a short while taking a few photos of them.

Most interesting though is a solitary gas lamp on a narrow street called Carting Lane, which is right next to the Savoy Theatre. The lane has a sewer running under it down to the river, and the original gas lamps here (and in many other parts of London) were powered by sewer gases – mainly methane from the sewerage below. Carting Lane was given the nickname of “Farting Lane”, which is probably mainly due to the linguistic joke. However, the sewer here predominantly dealt with waste from the Savoy Hotel, and as the rich dined here I would not be surprised if the sewer gases in this short road were unusually pungent!

As an aside, the Savoy Theatre was the world’s first building to be completely lit by the then modern form of electric lighting – so you have odd confluence of history going on here.

A couple of other locations that I have noticed gas lighting still in use are in St James Park by the bridge over the lake and around Buckingham Palace – including inside the Mews.

I am not entirely sure why gas lighting is still used, as it would not be a considerable amount of effort to switch to electric lighting, and most of the lamps are not noticeable for being gas lit, so it can’t really be a touristy thing.

You can see the photos on my Flickr account

Carting Lane - 2

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2 Comments

  1. This lamp in Carting Lane is also featured in the 1969 film “The London Nobody Knows” narrated by James Mason. So too is the Camden Roundhouse when it was still an engine shed.

  2. The Carting Lane lamp doesn’t really burn sewer gas (at least not primarily). It’s kept operational since it’s one of the few remaining Web Sewer Gas Lamps. Also see the Wikipedia entry for Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp.

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