Victorian London - Lighting - Gas - The Boccius Light


We are generally disposed to look with considerable distrust on any new discovery or invention which comes recommended to us by a peculiarly outlandish designation; and we readily admit that this was the first impression we were susceptible of on opening the prospectus, commencing with the luminous and somewhat startling announcement, patent "Boccius Light." On going through the document, however, we found that the invention derives its name from that of the patentee, who signs himself "Gottlieb Boccius," and dates himself from Duke-street, in the Adelphi and, certainly, if only half the advantages may be derived from its adoption which are set forth in the prospectus, Mr. Boccius's discovery would be well worthy the experiment. It is but justice, however, to the patentee to state, that he has submitted his invention, which professes to effect an economy of 83 per cent, in the burning of gas, whilst in point of purity and brilliancy the intensity of the light is greatly increased, to the fairest tests and examinations to which scientific discoveries can be properly subjected. It is proposed to apply it not only to purposes of street illumination, but also to introduce it into churches, halls, public and private buildings, shops, manufactories, &c., &c.; and an experiment has been already made, on an extensive scale, to show its capacity for effecting the first-mentioned purpose, by the erection of a lamp in the Strand, opposite Northumberland House. If all that the patentee says of his invention be true, the advantages to the public will be great, and, therefore, we subjoin a sketch of the tasteful erection in the Strand, which may not be unacceptable to our country readers.
    The lamp is cited as a practical specimen not only of the brilliancy, softness, and power of the light, but of its economy, and adaptation to this and other uses. It is found, in practice, to require about 90 cubic feet of gas per hour, which is equal to the consumption of about 16 or 18 common street burners, according to the usual contracts; whereas the light afforded, as ascertained by Messrs. Brands and Parkes, to whom it was submitted for examination, is equal to the concentrated effect of at least 100 such burners. Thus, six times the illuminating effect is produced by this single lamp, with the same quantity of gas; which is tantamount to an economy of 83 per cent. "it is therefore demonstrated" (says the prospectus) "that a hitherto unequalled degree of space-penetrating power, as well as of local intensity of illumination, is to be procured by means of this invention, in places of great public thoroughfare. These important advantages are obtained without any increase of expense to parishes and rate-payers, as a number of common lamps, at least equal in cost of gas to a single "Boccius light," may be dispensed with in such situations; and the public will gain the benefit of additional safety and convenience from the vastly increased amount of light. Lamps suitable to the illumination of areas of greater or less magnitude are constructed on the same principle, and with similar effects, according to the degree of power desired."
    Without pledging ourselves to the truth of all the details, we consider the invention of sufficient importance to demand a "fair trial."
    In explanation of the following engraving, it may be necessary to state that the gas is supplied from the main, passing through a meter placed at the top of the stone pillar. The weight of the lamp is 112lbs.

from The Illustrated London News, 1842