Victorian London - Lighting - Gas - shop windows 


OF all the nuisances of living in a cheap neighbourhood, none is to be compared - not even the organ nuisance - to the one of having to meet on your way home some fifty jets of gas, which rush up to you as if they had something confidential to whisper in your ear. Butchers particularly encourage this nuisance. They cannot turn the gas inside their shops, for then there would be a chance of all the joints which were hanging in its proximity being slowly cooked by gas; so they twist it outside and roast the public with it.
    A Correspondent writes to say that, during the culinary process, he has had a valuable new hat done to a turn, and a whisker completely burnt to rags. As he has to meet this gaseous broadside every night, he is afraid that the other whisker will soon perish under a similar fire, and he wishes to know if he cannot recover damages for the assault, which lie modestly values at £500£250 each whisker. We will lay the case before MR. BRIEFLESS.

Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1852

Most regular and reliable is a third medium for the lighting-up of London—the gas. The sun and moon may be behind their time, but the gas is always at its post. And in winter, it happens sometimes that it does service all day long. Its only drawback is, that it cannot be had gratis, like the light from the sun, moon, and stars; but the same inconveniences attend the gas on the Continent, and after all, it is cheaper in England than anywhere else. The Germans are mere tyros in the consumption of gas. The stairs of every decent London house, have generally quite as much light as a German shop, and the London shop are more strongly lighted up than the German theatre Butchers, and such-like tradesmen, especially in the smaller streets, burn the gas from one-inch tubes, that John Bull, in purchasing his piece of mutton or beef, may see each vein, each sinew, and each lump of fat. The smaller streets and the markets, are literally inundated with gaslight especially on Saturday evenings. No city on the Continent offers such a sight. In the apothecary’s shops, the light is placed at the back of gigantic glass bottles, filled with coloured liquid, so that fro a distance you see it in the most magnificent colour. The arrangement is convenient for those who are in search of such shop, and it gives the long and broad streets of London a strange and picturesque appearance.

Max Schlesinger, Saunterings in and about London, 1853

see also 'street-advertising' by the same author - click here