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Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp

A Grade II Listed Building in Broomhill and Sharrow Vale, Sheffield

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Latitude: 53.3662 / 53°21'58"N

Longitude: -1.4976 / 1°29'51"W

OS Eastings: 433524

OS Northings: 385598

OS Grid: SK335855

Mapcode National: GBR 99R.D3

Mapcode Global: WHCCJ.ZN08

Entry Name: Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp

Listing Date: 20 January 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421420

Location: Sheffield, S11

County: Sheffield

Electoral Ward/Division: Broomhill and Sharrow Vale

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Sheffield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: St Andrew, Psalter Lane

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield

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Sewer gas destructor lamp. 1924 by Webb Lamp Company, Birmingham. Cast iron, glass.


Sewer gas destructor lamp. 1924 by Webb Lamp Company, Birmingham. Cast iron, glass.

The lamp has a cast-iron, fluted round column with a bulged foot and two projecting ladder rests. The round pedestal has a moulded plinth and two moulded panels on opposite sides inscribed vertically WEBB LAMP CO. / LIMITED / BIRMINGHAM, and J E WEBBS PATENT / SEWER GAS / DESTRUCTOR. The conical lantern has four curved glass panels and a cast-iron domed cap topped by a valve with a finial terminating in a crescent. The lamp was complete and working at the time of survey.


Old urban sewers were often badly laid out and poorly vented, leading to the danger of disease and explosion from the build-up of methane and fetid stagnant gases in the system. In 1895 Joseph Edmund Webb, a builder from Birmingham, patented his sewer gas destructor lamp, and later formed the Webb Engineering Company. Sewer gas tended to collect in pockets, usually at high points in the sewer run. The lamps were located at these high points and coupled directly to the underground sewer. They were also connected to the ordinary town gas supply, and 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 the gases from the sewer through a copper tube inside the column. It was then harmlessly burnt off, converting the methane to 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.

Many towns and cities had these lamps but Sheffield had the largest number in any British town due to its hilly terrain. 82 Webb sewer gas destructor lamps were installed between 1914 and 1935 of which 25 survive, many of them listed. A document listing the date that each of the lamps was installed shows that the Stewart Road lamp was installed on the 10th July 1924. It was converted to natural gas in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Reasons for Listing

The sewer gas lamp on Stewart Road, Sheffield, of 1924 is listed 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;
* Technological: the lamp illustrates a technology which transformed everyday existence, and its contribution to the public realm was considerable;
* Intactness: the lamp is intact and in working order;
* Design quality: notwithstanding its humble nature, this is an attractive gas lamp with a fluted, cast-iron column with bulged foot, projecting ladder rests, conical lantern with four curved glass panels, and a cast-iron domed cap with crescent finial;
* Group value: the lamp is part of a series of nineteen listed gas sewer lamps in Sheffield, installed to vent the sewer pipes in the hilly terrain, and has a functional group value with them.

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