Why are Covent Garden’s historic gas lamps so special?

London is full of history. From blue plaques to incredible architecture, there are relics of times past dotted all over our city. By granting buildings and other artefacts protected status, Historic England helps to keep the Dickensian dream alive. 

Four twentieth-century gas lamps on Russell Street in Covent Garden have just been given listed status. The streetlights were built in 1910 to mark the beginning of George V’s reign, and will now be protected for generations to come. 

There are currently around 1,300 working gas lamps in London, with 270 in Westminster. Of these 270, about half are currently listed, but more could be given protection soon. The lamps on Russell Street have been listed at Grade II as part of a pilot project by Historic England to help inform ongoing discussions about the management of gas lamps in Westminster and beyond.

‘Gas lamps are an evocative part of our heritage, transporting you to the streetscape of another era. The more you look at them the more details you discover,’ said Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England.

‘These newly listed lamps enrich the character of this historic part of Covent Garden, and form part of a wider collection across Westminster. The 1910 columns and their 1930s “Upright Rochester” style lanterns – designed to reduce shadow and improve distribution of light – help illustrate how streetlighting technology has evolved over time, in an area of particular importance to the development of gas-powered streetlighting.’

Interested in finding out more about London’s sprawling history? Time Out has plenty more where that came from. These are the best historic pubs in London, these ten buildings in the capital are officially ‘at-risk’ (according to Historic England) and these are London’s best walking tours

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