The Carting Lane Fart Lamp

Just off the Strand, if you bend your steps down the little alley called Carting Lane, you will see a street lamp with a rather thick shaft.
It is right at the other end of the lane towards the river, behind the Savoy.

This is the last of London’s sewage lamps , a typically ingenious piece of Victorian engineering.

Invented by Joseph Webb in the latter part of the 19th century the Webb Patent Sewer Lamp was intended as a low cost way to light the streets of London as well as burning off the smells of London sewage.

Methane would be collected in a dome in the roof of the sewer and then drawn up through the wide tube of the Carting Lane lamp post and consequently burnt, which is why is was kept alight 24 hours a day, because presumably there was an inexhaustible supply of it.

I wonder if the guests staying at the Savoy Hotel had any idea that it was mostly their effluence that was keeping this particular one alight. Thats said, the lamps weren’t entirely powered by farty gas. There wasn’t actually enough so the town gas supply was used to heat up the filament.

Webb sold quite a lot of these lamps and they were very popular until they started to die out because of smelly explosions. Some still exist elsewhere in England but this one is the only one in London. A lorry knocked over the original so the gas board had to restore it. According to the plaque it still runs on residual bio-gas which is why it is always alight.

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Why not follow one of Joolz’s suggested guides walks?
>>Along the river<< >>Fleet Street and The City<< >>West End and Soho<< >>Camden to St Pauls<< >>The Stand and Whitehall<<

Rather Splendid London Walks Book

In this book of 20 walks, I will show you some of the fun, interesting, weird and ridiculous things I’ve noticed on my travels around London