Street Lighting In London.
Maitland, one of the many historians of London during the Georgina era, states, on very shadowy authority, that so early as 1414 an order was issued for hanging out lanterns to light the streets; but it would not appear that until after the fire of London any systematic regulations were adopted to enforce street lighting, and even then the charge of hanging out lanterns was obligatory on the inhabitants and not on the municipality. In the time of William III. it was only required that housekeepers should hang out a light or lamp every night, as soon as it was dark, between Michaelmas and Lady Day; but they were only bound to keep the light burning until midnight, and the penalty for non-lighting was the ridiculously small sum of one shilling. All these regulations, however, were owing to bad management, practically ineffectual. The city was lighted by contract and the contractors had to pay annually to the corporation the sum of £600. The streets were lighted on no more than 117 nights in the course of the year; and the consequent opportunity to thieves and desperadoes to commit depredations and outrages at night time was so great that in 1736 the corporation obtained an act of parliament empowering them to erect a sufficient number of such sort of glass lamps as they should judge proper, and to keep them burning from the setting to the rising of the sun throughout the year. The new system worked so well that in 1750 it was computed that there were more lamps in Oxford street alone than in the entire city of Paris. So thoroughly satisfied, indeed, were the good folks of London with their lamps fed with train oil, with three cotton wicks, that, at the beginning of the present century the new-born invention of gas lighting was fiercely opposed; and although, in 1807, an ingenious German first lit Pall Mall with gas, so late as 1813 the parish of St. Dunstan prosecuted William Sturt of 183 Fleet street, for continuing for three months past “the making of gas light and divers large fires of coal and other things, by reason whereof, and divers noisome stinks and smells and vapors, he causes the houses and dwellings near to be unhealthy.” For this alleged nuisance the occupier of 183 Fleet street was indicted at the sessions, as was also the proprietor of the Rainbow tavern, who had presumed to light his establishment with gas. But, the terrors of the law notwithstanding, the obdurate occupier in the next year, 1814, started a company and erected gas-works on the river bank at Whitefriars. We usually begin by prosecuting great public improvements as a nuisance, and end by admitting without the slightest shame that they are an immense boon. At any rate, we arc all of one opinion, that London must not be suffered to become a dark city, for the weighty reason that darkness would aggravate the discomfort and the dangers of the huge city to intolerable dimensions.—Daily Telegraph.
A LONDON PARISH TO DO ITS OWN ELECTRIC LIGHTING.In 1883 the St. Pancras vestry obtained a provisional order for electric lighting, and a special meeting of the vestry was held the other day to consider the unanimous recommendation of its lighting, parliamentary and general purposes committees to carry out an installation of electric lighting under that order. The vestry adopted the recommendation by a large majority, and instructed their engineer. Professor Henry Robinson, C. E., to prepare the necessary plans and specifications for a first installation of 10,000 private lights and 90 public lights, the whole involving an outlay of about £60,000. Some importance attaches to this proceeding, as we understand that the St. Pancras vestry is the only one in the metropolis that is going to carry out its own electric lighting, private and public. By this course of action, in undertaking its own electric lighting and opposing the admission of any electric lighting companies into their district, the vestry preserve all the profits of this method of illumination to the ratepayers. The experiment will be watched with interest.—Engineering.