The Victorian Society and the London Gasketeers welcome break through in extending protection for Westminster gas lights

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson's announcement on 12th February, of Listing Protection for four Gas Lamps in Covent Garden, heralds the possible protection of more of the historic lights.

The decision has also been welcomed by Nickie Aiken, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, who had joined the Gasketeers and the Victorian Society in requesting the protection of the capital’s early streetlighting. Street lighting powered by gas began in London in 1807. Just 16 years later by 1823, public spaces across the country were lit by gas. London retains around 1,300 working gas lamps, with about 270 in Westminster. Of the 270, about half are currently listed.

Connor McNeill, Conservation Adviser, The Victorian Society said, “As the charity campaigning for our Victorian and Edwardian heritage, The Victorian Society has actively supported the Gasketeers campaign to retain London’s gaslights. We are pleased that the persistence and dedication of the Gasketeers to preserve the historic gas lamps of London is now being reflected in the first listing of a group of Westminster lights in practically half a century, which formally recognises the significance of the lamps themselves. We hope this most welcome, official recognition from the Minister and Historic England will light the way for more lamps to be protected shortly across Westminster and beyond.”

Tim Bryars, on behalf of the London Gasketeers, said: “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.”

Minister for Arts and Heritage, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, said: "London's gas lamps have been an integral part of the city's identity for more than two centuries. From the novels of Dickens and Conan Doyle to Mary Poppins and The Muppet Christmas Carol, they have provided an evocative backdrop to many of our capital's most cherished scenes and locations. The particular lamps being listed today along Russell Street date back to the start of the reign of King George V, more than a century ago. They will now rightly be protected so that their inimitable glow can continue to brighten the lives of Londoners and millions of tourists for generations to come."

The list entries for the four gas lamps added to the Register can be read here:

Lamp post opposite Theatre Royal Drury Lane, outside 29 Russell Street

Photo: Historic England Archive

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