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tooting: gas lanterns

Two amazing old street lights have survived in the hustle and bustle of one of London's busy main roads. And they're extremely easy to find; simply take the tube to Tooting Broadway and step outside the station.

I knew the area well in the early 1990s, and made regular trips to the station. Therefore I recall both street lights. They both disappeared in the early 1990s, only to reappear, refurbished and moved from their original locations a year or two later.

Reproduction Tear-Drop Gas Lantern

This elegant old cast iron gas column is now mounted on the traffic island in the middle of the road. The column is interesting as it seems to have a vent by the ladder bar; could this be some form of stink-pipe? Note also that an extension bracket has been added above this, to which is mounted the lantern.

When this column reappeared in the mid 1990s, I remember being disappointed that the original lantern had disappered. Instead it was fitted with a reproduction Rochester style electric lantern. Interesting the council engineers also decided to embelish it with a spike on top of its canopy.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Gas Lanterns

Far more impressive was this wonderfully decorated five-headed lantern. It retained its original gas lanterns which now burn continuously.

Every part of this street light from the column, brackets and lanterns appears original. Even friends who wouldn't normally comment about street furniture have noticed this old relic, and have passed favourable comments.

Note the original sign directions as well. The column used to stand in the centre of the crossroads but was moved fifty yards down the road to the relative safety of a traffic island, so now the directions are rather redundant.

The lantern can be seen in the opening credits of Citizen Smith - although it's still not anywhere near the crossroads!

© Picture: Lee Gale