Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how on January 28th 1807, London’s Pall Mall became the first street light lit by a gaslight.
If you never heard of London’s Pall Mall before, Pall Mall was laid out in its present location in 1661, replacing a much older highway slightly to the south that ran from Charing Cross to St James’s Palace (then the residence of the King of England.
The name of the street is derived from “pall-mall”, a ball game that was played there during the 17th century.
Have you heard of a brand of cigarette called Pall Mall?
The Pall Mall brand was introduced in 1899 by the Black Butler Company (UK) in an attempt to cater to the upper class with the first “premium” cigarette. It is named after Pall Mall, the street that I’m writing about today.
In the 1700s street lights didn’t exactly have electricity since it wasn’t invented yet.
The gaslight was developed in the 1790s. The credit usually goes to Scottish engineer William Murdoch, but it was Friedrich Albert Winzer (sometimes anglicized to Frederick Winsor), a German entrepreneur living in London, who lit Pall Mall.
In 1804, the same year he patented coal-gas lighting, Winzer demonstrated the technology during a lecture at London’s Lyceum Theatre. By 1807, he had moved into a house on Pall Mall, one of the city’s most fashionable streets.
He followed the illumination of Pall Mall with a special exhibition on June 4, 1807, in honor of the birthday of King George III, using gaslight to superimpose images against the walls of the buildings along his street.
Although it is certainly antiquated technology today, the gaslight retains a charm that electric lighting simply can’t match. As a result, public illumination using gaslights is still found, usually in the historic districts of older cities. (In the United States, gas lit neighborhoods can still be found in Boston, Cincinnati and New Orleans).
As we remember how on January 28th 1807, London’s Pall Mall became the first street lit by a gaslight.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell