Daily Mail

It’s a bright idea to replace gas lights


GRIFF RHYS JONES wrote eloquently about gas lights in Westminste­r (Mail).

But as a consultant to an engineerin­g company that supplies heritage LED lighting, I feel his romantic, nostalgic view obscured some important facts. The current gas lights really are expensive to run and maintain, and it is hard to imagine the ratepayers and council tax payers of Westminste­r would think this acceptable when modern, low-energy, low-maintenanc­e alternativ­es are available.

Mr Rhys Jones is quite right to lament the loss of the subtle glow of these beautifull­y designed old lanterns, and where they are replaced with bright, white, ultra-modernlook­ing LEDs, he and local interest groups are right to complain. However, Westminste­r’s lanterns are not being replaced with the usual high-glare LED luminaires. Westminste­r, in associatio­n with Historic England, have commission­ed exact replicas of the originals where they cannot be refurbishe­d (some are beyond repair), even down to the copper frame, despite the fact that they are painted black. The light source mimics exactly the colour of gas burning in a mantle and is placed within a modern ‘mantle’ that not only creates a low-glare light, but makes the lanterns almost indistingu­ishable from the originals.

Where examples of this arrangemen­t have been fitted in other cities, locals have commented that they were pleased to see the gas lights had been retained.

In all likelihood, the original lanterns have had so many repairs and replacemen­ts over the years that no part of them is, in fact, original — but they retain the look of the originals, just like these new LED versions. We must be conscious of energy saving and CO2 reduction in every walk of life and not let a rose-tinted view of the past prevent progress.

But here is an example of modern technology enhancing a much-loved design icon so we can, for once, get the best of both worlds.

Come on, Griff, have a proper look at what Westminste­r are doing.

CHris anGeLL,

amesbury, wilts.

 ?? ?? Soft glow: A British Gas engineer cleans a lamp in Westminste­r
Soft glow: A British Gas engineer cleans a lamp in Westminste­r

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