Four Westminster Gas Street Lamps Get Protected Status

By M@
Four Westminster Gas Street Lamps Get Protected Status
A lamp lighter up a ladder in Covent Garden lighting a gas lamp
Image courtesy of Historic England

Four more of London's at-risk gas lamps now have listed status.

London's 1,300 or so surviving gas lamps are beacons from another age. They speak to us of a Dickensian past of swirling fogs and horse-drawn carriages. But they're under threat.

Gas lighting was pioneered in London. Pall Mall became the first street in the world to have gas lamps in 1807. Many of the city's surviving lamps are now 200 years old, and some carry listed status.

Head of a gas lamp showing six glowing bulbs
Image courtesy of Historic England

BUT... They're expensive to maintain and don't exactly scream "green and energy efficient". As such, Westminster Council recently drew up plans to replace many of the lamp heads with LEDs.

The plans sparked a backlash from heritage campaigners, who view the lamps as an important part of London's character and identity. The campaign is spearheaded by the London Gasketeers, a grassroots movement fighting to save Westminster's lamps.

They've scored a big success this week, with the announcement that four of Covent Garden's historic lamps have been awarded Grade II listed status by Historic England. The lambent quartet have stood in line along Russell Street since 1910. Tim Byers of the London Gasketeers provides further context:

The London Gasketeers are delighted that all four Russell Street gas lamps now have legal protection, recognising their group value. Together, their distinctive light will help future generations appreciate the architecture and ambience of London a century ago, which is wonderful for walking tours of Westminster by gaslight. We are especially pleased that the listing includes one of the more modern lamps, installed following the successful campaign to save historic Covent Garden from demolition and redevelopment in the 1970s. Campaigners who won that battle appreciated the value of preserving the lamps in chains and clusters, as we do. These are the first Westminster gas lamps to be listed in 40 years, a milestone in our grassroots campaign, and it provides a model for protecting the remaining handful of survivors.

A gas lamp in Covent Garden
One of the lamps in context. Image courtesy of Historic England

The fight to protect Westminster's wider population of lamps is not yet over, but the victory paves the way for further listings in the near future.

Last Updated 12 February 2024

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