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Sewer Gas Lamp, Whitley Bay

Description: Sewer Gas Lamp

Grade: II
Date Listed: 19 January 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1405385

OS Grid Reference: NZ3458271647
OS Grid Coordinates: 434582, 571647
Latitude/Longitude: 55.0381, -1.4604

Locality: Whitley Bay
County: North Tyneside
Country: England
Postcode: NE25 8JS

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Listing Text


One of ten surviving Sewer gas lamps erected in the Whitley Bay and Monkseaton areas between 1900 and 1910.

Reason for Listing

This C20 sewer gas lamp is recommended for designation at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: although gas lamps were once common features of our street scenes they are increasingly rare and those combined with sewer vents are rarer still.
* Intactness: this is an intact example with a complete glass lantern.
* Design quality: not withstanding its humble nature, this is an attractive gas standard with a fluted cast-iron base and ornamental brackets.
* Group value: this is one of a small group of ten intact sewer gas lamps in the Monkseaton and Whitley Bay area.
* Technological: it illustrates a technology, which once transformed everyday existence, and its contribution to the public realm was considerable.


This lamp is one of 17 Sewer Gas Lamps erected in the Whitley Bay and Monkseaton areas between 1900 and 1910 of which 10 survive. The following description of their purpose and design is taken from "The History of Monkseaton Village’ by Local Historian Charlie Steel.

"In the 1890s, Joseph Edmund Webb, a builder from Birmingham, invented and patented his sewer gas destructor lamp, and later formed the Webb Engineering Company. Within ten years of their introduction, these lamps were found all over England and in many other parts of the world. Old sewers were often badly laid out and poorly vented, so there was always a danger of disease (or even explosion) from methane and fetid stagnant gases, which could build up in the system. The lamps, which were connected to the ordinary town gas supply, were installed at high points in the system and were coupled directly to the underground sewer. They were usually lit by three mantles, which were rarely extinguished. The burning mantles created an intense heat within the hood, leading to an updraught, which drew air from the sewer through a copper tube inside the column; the sewer gas was therefore harmlessly burned off, thus converting the methane into Carbon Dioxide before being released into the atmosphere. One lamp was capable of venting an area of up to three quarters of a mile of sewer’.


Sewer gas lamp, early C20.

The standard is of fluted cast iron with a curved glass lantern; the lantern is supported by four ornamental brackets and it has a high valve to the domed canopy; there is a ladder rest at the top, which also supports the hinged top of the hood when open for cleaning or maintenance. The lamp has a cast-iron base plate reading: 'J.E.WEBBS PATENT SEWER GAS DESTRUCTOR' and 'WEBB LAMP Co. LIMITED POULTRY'. The lantern head bears the name 'SUGG'.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.