THIRTY-FOUR CATENARY LAMP STANDARDS

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1392513
Date first listed:
08-Apr-2008
Statutory Address:
THIRTY-FOUR CATENARY LAMP STANDARDS, VICTORIA EMBANKMENT

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
THIRTY-FOUR CATENARY LAMP STANDARDS, VICTORIA EMBANKMENT

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Greater London Authority
District:
City of Westminster (London Borough)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ 30301 79794

Reasons for Designation

The catenary lamp standards on the Victoria Embankment has been listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * special historic interest as surviving structures relating to the provision of streetlighting along the London's Embankment; * special artistic interest for their uniqueness, quality and the importance of their design which includes colourful civic heraldry, an exuberant expression of the Art-Nouveau style, and dolphins which relate directly to the lamps along the Embankment wall designed by Timothy Butler and installed in 1870; * group value with other notable elements of street furniture including Cleopatra's Needle (Grade I), the many memorials along the riverside (mostly Grade II) and the public seats with sphinx frames of 1872-74 by Lewis and G F Vulliamy (Grade II); the lamp standards enrich the streetscape of one of the great boulevards of London.

Details



1900/0/10328 VICTORIA EMBANKMENT 08-APR-08 Thirty-four catenary lamp standards

GV II Catenary lamp standards; 32 of c1900, by Walter MacFarlane and Company and 2 of c1929 by Carron and Company.

DESIGN: The handsome posts have a unique design which comprises a rectangular base with four decorated panels topped with four dolphins whose tails appear to support the shaft of the post. The panel of the rectangular bases facing the road is enlivened by the date '1900' and an image of a female figure, presumably Britannia, holding two shields, bearing the arms of the cities of London and Westminster; the panel facing the pavement contains a florid, Art-Nouveau influenced design of a flowering rose tree which dissolves into a ribbon frieze at the base; the two remaining panels contain a foliage design which includes an oak sprig and acorns. The shaft is topped by a finial and the post carries a light shade which dates from the second half of the C20 and is not of special interest. The lamps are painted black, gold and red.

The majority of the original lamp standards have marks on the base reading 'Walter MacFarlane & Co / Saracen Foundry / Glasgow', but few of these are legible due to many layers of paint. Others are numbered, although there does not appear to be any logical sequence to the numbering. The final pair, at either side of the road, where the Embankment meets Westminster Bridge is marked 'Carron Company / Stirlingshire' and dated 1929.

LOCATION: There are thirty-four original catenary lamp standards. The majority, twenty-eight, are between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge but there are six more original lamp standards further east of this, interspersed with modern replicas. The principal difference between the originals and the replicas is that the former are a single casting with makers' marks on the bases and the latter are less richly detailed and made of two pieces, vertically symmetrical, designed to fit around modern steel posts and with a noticeable vertical seam.

HISTORY: These cast-iron posts were introduced c1900 to carry the wires which supplied electricity for the two street lights that hung above the roadway, supported by cables between each pair of posts (catenary lamps). Since the first gas lamps were introduced to a London street, Pall Mall, in 1816, this had been the predominant form of street lighting in the capital. In 1878 a series of sixty electric lights were installed along the Victoria Embankment, the first experiment of its kind in Britain. By 1884, however, they had been found to be inefficient and expensive and the Embankment returned to gaslight. Improvements in the science of generating electricity for lights led to their reintroduction along the Embankment c1900 in the form described above. It has been suggested that the lamp standards were introduced to carry wires for trams, but electric trams were not introduced along the Embankment until 1906. An historic photo dating from around the mid-C20 shows trams operating on the route without overheard wires and the lamp standards supporting wires from which are hung street lights.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The catenary lamp standards on the Victoria Embankment are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * special historic interest as surviving structures relating to the provision of streetlighting along the London's Embankment; * special artistic interest for their uniqueness, quality and the importance of their design which includes colourful civic heraldry, an exuberant expression of the Art-Nouveau style, and dolphins which relate directly to the lamps along the Embankment wall designed by Timothy Butler and installed in 1870; * group value with other notable elements of street furniture including Cleopatra's Needle (Grade I), the many memorials along the riverside (mostly Grade II) and the public seats with sphinx frames of 1872-74 by Lewis and G F Vulliamy (Grade II); the lamp standards enrich the streetscape of one of the great boulevards of London.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
501446
Legacy System:
LBS

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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