Gaslights on 1 & 2 Mitre Buildings, Temple

Here is a back alley off Fleet Street, London EC4.

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It is Old Mitre Court. The buildings on the right are 1 & 2 Mitre Court Buildings. They are listed Grade 2. Here’s what Historic England says in the listing:

Early/mid C19. 4 storeys plus basement. Plain classical, south elevation of Portland stone with channelled ground storey and cornice below top floor. Arched passage through centre. Plain, rear elevation of yellow brick with railings and gates.

It’s the “rear elevation of yellow brick” that you see in the picture. There are three gas lamps, at least one of which works. The other two look very rickety.

The buildings, 1 & 2 Mitre Court Buildings, are legal practices, housing Barristers and their associates. A list of the barristers is by the doors. The notice on the pavement says “Inner Temple Treasury Office, Open 10am – 4pm”. This is the office underneath the furthest gas light, the one with the right-angled support above it.

The paving slabs at the bottom of the picture were in fact green, as I have drawn them. It was damp, and there was a coating of moss-type algae on the paving slabs. A saying of my late father was, “The plants will win in the end”. When I see such a green coating on stone, in the middle of the City, I am reminded of his words, and I think he is right.

Eventually I had to stop drawing as the rain came down. The drawing got a bit wet.

Here is work in progress and a map:

 

Drawing took 1hour 15 mins. Colours used mostly Perinone orange, and Prussian blue, with a bit of burnt umber. Indian yellow for the gas lights. All Daniel Smith colours. Pen is Lamy Safari EF nib, with De Atramentis document (waterproof) black ink.

 

Gaslight in Guildhall Yard

The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
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.

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Gaslight, and St Lawrence Jewry, from Guildhall Buildings

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Here is the gas light close up, drawn from Guildhall Yard, looking south.

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Written on the little blue canister are the words:

NEWBRIDGE
HORSTMANN
GEAR Co
LTD
BATH ENG

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!

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06:45 15th October 2019, Guildhall Buildings