The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
T.S. Eliot – Preludes
There are still quite a few gas lights in London. I aim to draw as many as possible before they are taken out of service. It’s quite remarkable that there are so many in operation. This one is in Guildhall Yard, in the City of London. St Lawrence Jewry is in the background.
Here is the gas light close up, drawn from Guildhall Yard, looking south.
Written on the little blue canister are the words:
It is a timing device. According to the marvellous website “Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History”, in 1904 the Horstmann Gear Company patented….
“…the Solar Dial which automatically adjusted lighting times at dusk and dawn throughout the year. It was the start of nearly eighty years of Horstmann’s manufacturing involvement in the street lighting controls market.”
However before this innovation, the gas might have been lit by a person, because there is the arm for the ladder, as shown in my drawing. Perhaps that arm was always there, though, even after automation, in case someone needed to inspect the light. The North face of the light, the one shown in my picture, includes hinges on the left, and evidently could be opened.
I do not know if this light still functions. I shall take a diversion that way in the night, and let you know.*
I have drawn another local gas light, which does still function, off King Edward Street.
All pictures drawn and coloured on location. Pen and wash.
*Update: It works!