Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!
I must not omit to mention the fine pair of lamps in Charlotte Street, near Bertorelli's, and
the two in Breams Buildings, off Chancery Lane.
At one time, as I have already mentioned, the London streets had a wondrous collection
of lamps of all sorts, including those suspended from public houses and shops. These were
heavy lamps that required a team of men to install them, with a fixing deep into the brick-
work. Pharmacies in particular favoured them; of those still remaining, the one outside
Meacher, Higgins and Thomas in Crawford Street, Marylebone, is a fine specimen, with
panes of red, yellow, and blue glass. This illustration is of the lamp on Islington Green. In
its heyday, this must have been very satisfying to look upon, though it is composed of very
simple elements - a deep plinth, a few mouldings, curving leaves of acanthus, and a pat-
tern of smaller leaves below the fluted stem. The last-century iron founders could do this
sort of thing easily. Compare this with the poverty-stricken ones recently erected in vari-
ous parts of Westminster, pathetic affairs which, incidentally, displaced in the parish of St
Martin-in-the-Fields those charming lamps, sixty-odd-years-old ones, which had the car-
touche of St Martin dividing his cloak with the beggar - a pleasing touch impossible today.
In front of the Islington Green lamp is a horse trough, itself a relic of a vanished age. These
troughs, often with a biblical inscription, were installed all over London. One or two are
still used - for example, the trough on Euston Road by the side of St Pancras Station and,
more particularly, the beautifully kept cattle trough in Wellington Place, St John's Wood.
Beautifully kept because the brass work is always polished and the water clean and, on
winter mornings, a man arrives on a bicycle, armed with a long pole which he uses to break
up the ice that has formed on the surface of the water. Wellington Place is also fortunate
enough to possess one of the elegant Victorian letter boxes of London. These pillar-boxes
were not only fine in themselves, they were also admirably adapted to harmonise with Ge-
orgian, Regency, and neo-Classic terraces and villas. To post a letter bearing one of the
'penny reds' of the sixties in one of these boxes was to correspond in style. The inven-
tion of the pillar-box is often popularly, but erroneously, ascribed to Trollope. Actually the
novelist did not invent the letter-box, but he is officially regarded as having introduced it
into the British Postal Service. Long before then, boxes had been used in Paris for the col-
lection of letters, so there was nothing new in the idea when they appeared here in 1852,
the first being put up in Jersey and Guernsey. These were of very simple design. London's
first six boxes appeared in 1855; the first one was erected at the corner of Fleet Street and
Farringdon Street in the spring of that year. It was reproduced in the Illustrated London
News on 24 March 1855, and the caption described it as 'a stove-like design, reminding
one of the latest of the London conduits'. These boxes were rather stove-like, and had a
curving, domed top with a radiating pattern of palm leaves. Such boxes have long since
disappeared, but there is a box in similar style resembling an old register stove, only taller,
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