Electrification has struck. Londoners protest gas lamp swap

There are about 1500 gas lamps in London, they illuminate the entrances to underground stations. But also important tourist sites like Trafalgar Square. And since 1807, when they were the first in the world to light up in the heart of Great Britain. For example, Prague joined 40 years later. Today, the Czech capital operates around 700 of them and does not intend to change them in the near future. Which is not to say about London. Westminster City Council decided to gradually electrify them last July. But she encountered resistance from locals.

“Gas lamps are an integral part of London’s DNA. They have been immortalized in television, film and books. And London is one of the first cities in the world with gas lamps. So in To a large extent, what people who travel to London are looking for next is an important part of our history. They are worth saving,” Luke Honey, a representative of the London Gas Guards, told the AP.

Heating in restaurants would be worse than old gas lamps

Councilors wanted to start with 305 gas lamps in Westminster. And replace the natural gas version with greener LED replicas. They planned to pay for the work from a lighting improvement fund in London. So from a six million pound package. According to supporters of the original lamps, however, they are not so harmful to the air.

“Emissions from gas lamps are extremely low. We have calculated that a patio heater in a restaurant generates over 10 times more emissions than a Victorian gas lamp. So we are talking about small, very small amounts of gas,” adds Honey.

Another argument of the Westminster councilors was the long repairs due to the lack of spare parts. Unlit repaired lamps, they say, could also pose safety risks to people in London. But this is again denied by their maintenance.

“We have lots of spare parts. We have them in our Battersea depot, where we have glass that is still produced today, be it curved or flat glass for the different types of lamps we use. But glass makes us.We have a bunch of spare parts for these lamps, which we have been retrofitting for years, and we also have makers that we still use to make parts today, and they fit any type lamp,” says Joe Fuller of British Gas., who maintains the lamps.

“We look after about a thousand lamps in and around London, and half of them, about 500, have mechanical clocks which have to be stretched about every two weeks, they’re very reliable, but they have to adjusting and stretching the mechanism once in a while, so we stretch 500 every two weeks or so,” he adds.

Entrepreneurs are also against it. Gas lamps help in business

Gas lamps are sometimes found on the streets next to regular businesses. And it is their owners who also oppose the replacement of LED replicas.

“Their very existence benefits my business. People don’t go to London to see the lack of monotony. It might be more convenient, no doubt, administratively, if everything were standardized, but then life would be terribly monotonous. And I think Cecil Court is the only street in this part of London where every shop specializes in other goods, and you can come here and see something as bizarre as a working gas lamp – that is part of the magic,” says Tim Bryars. , owner of an antique dealer and member of the London Gasketeers.

Within months, London councilors replaced around a tenth of Westminster’s three hundred gas lamps with LED replicas. The inhabitants were outraged that they had not even consulted them. And photos of historic lamps in containers have already appeared.

“I was quite surprised to see guys working for councils digging a hole in front of the store. They just explained to me that they were just testing how easily it would be possible to convert the lamp into electricity. And I tell them it’s gassy. And they said they know. And then an alarm went off in my head,” Bryars adds.

The exchange has stopped. The councilors gave the vote to the inhabitants

Work to replace the lamps eventually stopped. And London City Council is now consulting with local residents and supporter groups. The results are to be published by the end of this year.

“I think we have a good chance. When we look at all the reasons why lamps should be kept, there are a lot to buy – I mean in favor of their protection. The council should be told why they are so important and why they are an important part of London’s cultural and industrial history,” adds Honey.

The situation is reversed in Prague. Gas lamps illuminated the Czech capital from 1847 to 1985. The last ones, which had not yet been replaced by František Křižík’s electric lamps, died out. In 2002, however, at the instigation of conservationists, gas lamps returned. So no longer for natural gas, but for natural gas. Seven hundred of them line the famous Royal Route from Charles Bridge to Prague Castle.

Except in exceptional cases, it is switched on remotely from the central control room, at the same time as the electric lamps. The electronics open the gas supply from the street gas pipeline and turn on the six heating bottoms inside. In addition, they are recognizable thanks to the transparent glass cover.

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