Westminster Gas Lamps

Westminster City Council is considering the future of its historic gas-powered streetlighting.

Gas-powered streetlights are a charming and evocative part of our heritage. In Westminster, the number and variety of these form a remarkable collection, as well as them being significant as individual structures. Many are recognised on the National Heritage List.

A public consultation was recently held on proposals to replace gas lighting with LED bulbs. This would involve the comprehensive removal of existing historic lanterns – the glazed box containing the light – and replacement with modern replicas attached to the existing lamppost or wall bracket. We believe this would cause unnecessary harm and have raised serious concerns about this proposal.

Historic England strongly supports urgent climate action and is committed to achieving net zero. While we have serious concerns about how the City Council is looking to modify its gas-powered streetlights, we are broadly supportive of the importance of reducing carbon emissions.

Technology to replicate the quality of gas lighting with LEDs has improved in recent years. If these latest generation LEDs are integrated into existing historic lanterns, with historic mechanisms retained, the impact and heritage harm caused by the consultation proposals could be much reduced.

We are continuing conversations with Westminster City Council to address our concerns and to discuss the most efficient way of recognising the special interest of any unlisted gaslights.