A few years ago Time Out (when it appeared in printed form) ran a series: Bloggers picks:15 things to do in London this Autumn, naturally CabbieBlog made a contribution and this was my take on Autumnal London.
See Victorian London blaze into life
There aren’t many places left in the capital where you feel like you may be in Dickensian London, but Kensington Palace Gardens is one of them. At night you’ll notice the soft glow emanating from the street lights: they’re a handful of the 1,500 Victorian gas lamps remaining in the city. Just five lamplighters maintain them – it’s a job so popular that vacancies are rarely advertised by British Gas. As dusk falls and the birds start to roost in the trees, a clockwork device inside each lamp turns on the gas jet, which is ignited by the continually burning pilot light. The flame then heats a silk casing coated in lime oxide which turns white-hot and gives off that misty glow. For a short time, modern-day London is but a memory.
Now if it wasn’t for the pressure group The London Gasketeers, Westminster would have replaced the last of these lamps with LEDs. The council had argued that repairs on the lamps were difficult and expensive, and led to dangerously darkened streets. The local authority will now consult with Historic England, with Cllr Rachael Robathan, the leader of the council, stating:
We all want to preserve these beautiful heritage lamps for the future, but in order to do that we need to make sure they can continue to operate going forward.
We shall be keeping a close watch on this authority’s ambitions for modernity.