From British Gas comes this lovely map of a walking trail in central London, that highlights many of the streets and locations that are still lit by gas lamps in London – it may come as a surprise to many people, but there are many gas lamps still in the oldest parts of London, lit by a gas supply rather than electricity. British Gas may just be one of many UK fuel companies these days, but it retains a historic duty – a small but dedicated team at the company are in charge of maintaining and repairing the gas lamps. Londonist created a fascinating short video showing the team at work, last year.
From the company themselves:
There are 1,500 gas lamps left in London which British Gas’ team of five lamplighters look after. These historic lamps stretch from Richmond Bridge in the west to Bromley-by-Bow in the east. The oldest lamps are in Westminster Abbey and the newest lights up a popular retail store in Covent Garden. Many of the lamps survive from the Victorian era.
The earliest lamplighters lit each lamp by hand at dusk every night and extinguished them at dawn. The role of the lamplighter has evolved since then and now they can be found making their way around London on scooters.
When tending to the lamps the mechanisms have to be wound up and checked, the glass polished and the mantles replaced. They may also require repairs if damaged by a lorry or building work around them.
Iain Bell leads the team of lamplighters at British Gas. He says: “People love historical dramas which may be a reason why more and more people across the world have taken an interest in what we do. There are different variations of these lamps across London so it’s worth taking a closer look at their unique designs. There’s even an infamous sewer lamp outside the Savoy Hotel, which was designed to extract and burn off any unpleasant smells before they reached the hotel’s guests.
“The 19th century lamps tell a story of a magical and hidden part of London, and we’re proud to maintain this iconic piece of history.”
If you are in central London on Christmas day or at another time in the winter period in particular, this would be a lovely short walking tour to do, particularly at dusk when the gas lamps switch on.
We like the “painted” style of the map, and also the use of SVG vectors for the street and feature names, ensuring the map looks great at any resolution. We also like the concept of creating a “niche” glimpse of an aspect of London most people will not know about, and putting it together in a concise and attractive map like this.
Thanks to Claire for the heads-up.