Having a gas | The last Webb Patent Sewer lamp in London

This street light down a Westminster side street is more important than you think.

Carting Lane Gas lamp © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp is located on Carting Lane


© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The lamp burns 24 hours a day

Once a mainstay of Victorian streets, gas lamps have gradually been replaced by electric lighting and are a very rare occurrence today. However down one quiet London street, there is what is believed to be the capital’s only remaining sewer gas lamp. Halfway down Carting Lane at the back of The Savoy hotel, is an example of a Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp. The design was patented by Joseph Edmund Webb of Birmingham in the late 19th century in a bid to safely remove sewer gases from the sewers below. These gases, when built up, were hazardous and smelt dreadful. These lamps were mainly placed on slopes and hills – where sewer gases were more likely to collect. Carting Lane is a slope leading down towards the Thames from the Strand, with the sewers taking waste from The Savoy. With this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear the road has been nicknamed ‘Farting Lane’. In the 18th century up until the 1860s, the thoroughfare was known as Dirty Lane. This unfortunate name came as the lane was a cut-through for horse and carts to the nearby Salisbury Wharf. However, while the lamps removed sewer gases, they weren’t actually powered by them. The flame is lit by traditional town gas, while drawing up sewer gases from below and burning off any impurities along with the mains gas.

Unfortunately the lamp was damaged by a lorry in more recent years, but has been fully restored by British Gas engineers and can now be seen running 24 hours a day.

  • The old lamppost can be found on Carting Lane (leading from The Strand to Savoy Place), Westminster, WC2R. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple.

For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

About Metro Girl

Media professional who was born, brought up and works in London. My blog is a guide to London - what's on, festivals, history, reviews and attractions. All images on my blog are © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl, unless otherwise specified. Do not use without seeking permission first.

Posted on 29 Oct 2014, in History, London and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. We are a Uk based lifestyle website. At the moment we are featuring interviews with bloggers. We would love you to take part. Please see thus link for details. http://5thingstodotoday.com/feature-your-thing/blogger-interviews/

  2. it is a truth universally acknowledged that the quality of a blog on London can be established by seeing if the author is aware that the Webb patent sewer gas destructor lamp is powered from the gas main and not by the sewer gases. Unsurprisingly the excellent Memoirs blog is firmly in the good quality category. As an aside – regarding “ordinary” gas lamps there are still over a thousand in London particularly in parts of Westminster, Covent Garden, the Royal Parks and the Inns of Court.

  1. Pingback: Can lampposts be fashionable? The myth of the Coco Chanel street lights | Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

  2. Pingback: Seen a Dolphin in the Thames? Story behind the lamps on the Thames Embankment | Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

%d bloggers like this: