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Webb Patent Sewer Gas Destructor Lamps

Webb patent lamp in Brincliffe Edge Road- still going strong in June 2008. Photo: A Cordwell

In 1895 Joseph Edmund Webb of Birmingham patented his Sewer Gas Destructor lamp, and then went on to improve it over a number of years. It was invented to solve a problem- that gas built up in sewers, and quite apart from the danger to personnel that this represented, if not released elsewhere it tended to leak out and create unpleasant odours.

Webb's solution was to design a lamp that burnt the sewer gas along with ordinary gas in a very hot flame, in a gas mantle. Sewer gas tended to build up in pockets, usually at a high spot on the sewer run. Most cities had these lamps, but Sheffield had 84 of them installed between 1915 and 1935; more than any other British city. The reason for this simple- that the hilly terrain of Sheffield produced more gas pockets than anywhere else!

This web page is about the Webb lamps of Sheffield, where they are and what their current state is. My intention is to photograph them all and add the photos to this page, but as I'm sure you'll appreciate, this is a time consuming task.

You can view a Microsoft Virtual Earth map showing the location of the lamps I've examined by clicking here (opens new browser window).

Locations of existing lamps

Sheffield City Council maintain a register of listed buildings, which can be downloaded from their web site, you can get to the correct page by clicking this link. In this document are listed the following:

  • Alderson Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with London Road
  • Ashdell Sewer gas lamp at junction of Ashdell and Westbourne Road
  • Bishopcourt Road Sewer gas lamp
  • Brincliffe Edge Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Union Road
  • Broomhall Street Sewer gas lamp at junction with Westhill Lane
  • Cemetery Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Frog Walk
  • Fox Hill Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Camborne Road
  • Jenkin Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Tipton Street
  • Kent Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Nicholson Road
  • Lancing Road Sewer gas lamp north of junction with Cherry Street
  • Leavy Greave Road Sewer Gas Lamp opposite junction with Victoria Street
  • Moor Oaks Road Sewer gas lamp at north west end
  • Mulehouse Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Stannington View Road
  • Oakland road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Portsea Road
  • Park Lane Sewer gas lamp 25m south east of junction with Antrim Avenue
  • Rural Lane Sewer gas lamp 15m south of no 237 (No 237 not included)
  • School Road Sewer gas lamp opposite junction with Glebe Road
  • Shiregreen Lane Sewer gas lamp at junction with Monckton Road
  • Upper Albert Road Sewer gas lamp at junction with Rushdale Road

Wilf Jessop contacted me, having seen this web page, and told me about the 22 lamps he'd identified. In addition to those on the council list, Wilf also found:

  • Stewart Road: in mint condition, and illuminated- Wilf doesn't know who looks after this one*
  • Toftwood Road
  • Stothard Road

* Those in the Nether Edge area are looked after by the local Neighbourhood group

The Lamps

Lamp No 1

I noticed this one last year, when it's glass was a lot cleaner than it is now. Note that it stands in the wall, on Brincliffe Edge Road. It works very well indeed- best I know of to date.

View using Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping

Lamp No 2

Discovered by my colleague Neil Clarke, this one stands on the roundabout at the Sharrow Lane/Psalter Lane junction. As you can see it is lit, but only gives off a dim light. The glass is a bit mucky, you can't really see what's going on in there!

View using Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping

Lamp No 3

This lamp stands at the junction of Upper Albert Road and Rushdale Road. It is complete but not lit. It looks as though a little maintenance would bring it back to working order- probably just a clean and new mantles.

View using Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping

Lamp No 4

This one's on Kent Road. The glass is smashed and one of the ladder rests is missing. Probably unretreivable.

View using Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping

Lamp No 5

I've known about this one for years. It stands on Bishopscourt Road. The head is completely missing.

View using Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping

Misc Pictures

Left: makers nameplate on base- "Webb Lamp Co Limited Birmingham", seen on Kent Road lamp. Right: Burners, Kent Road Lamp. There are 3 mantle-holders.

Information

The information on this page came from the following sources:

All photographs on this page © Alan Cordwell 2008

Please note that the mapping feature is in development and may not be very accurate at this stage, or work correctly.




Last Modified 5/7/08