Runcorn’s sole example of a Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp has been restored, thanks to a partnership between INEOS, Halton Borough Council and local historian, Stuart Allen, shining a light on a piece of industrial history.
And Mr Allen said it was part of a number of projects bringing feelings of excitement and pride back to Runcorn.
Halton Borough Council acted upon Stuart’s idea to both restore and relight the Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp near Waterloo Bridge in Runcorn Town Centre.
The INEOS Energy from Waste plant at Weston Point in Runcorn pays an amount of money (based upon the tonnages handled) in to a fund (The Environment Fund). That fund is there to pay for environmental improvements within the Borough.
Sewer Gas Destructor Lamps were invented in 1894 by Joseph Edmund Webb of Birmingham, and his invention was patented in 1895.
His idea was to vent dangerous methane gas directly from the underground sewer mains up through the lamppost where it would be burned at the top to produce light. He thus turned a social danger into something productive.
The Runcorn project came about as the result of Stuart bringing it to the attention of Cllr Pauline Sinnott and asking if anything could be done to restore this lamp like a similar project that had recently been done in Sheffield.
She approached and shared the enquiry with the External Funding and Community Development Team. which then conducted further research and contact was made with the stakeholders involved in the Sheffield restoration.
From this a quotation was obtained from the organisation responsible for the Sheffield Lamps Restoration, Pudsey Diamond, which came up with a sensitive design for the lamps in association with Historic England.
Stuart said: “I am delighted that Halton Borough Council acted upon my idea to both restore and relight our town’s sole example of a Sewer Gas Destructor Lamp. The lamp was always a favourite subject of our greatest historian, Bert Starkey, and I so wish he could have seen it lit up.
“The lamp is a nice, interesting piece of our history located in what is sure to become a very important area of Runcorn once the old line of locks along the Bridgewater Canal are reopened.
“Halton Borough Council has been involved in some very worthy heritage collaborations just lately and for that they should be thanked.
“With projects such as Unlock Runcorn and the redevelopment of the Railway Station Quarter amongst others there is once again feelings of excitement and pride in the town”.
Cllr Sinnott said: “We understand this to be the last standing lamp of this kind across Runcorn and that it is a historic piece dating back to at least 1905, located, on High Street in Runcorn (Opposite the Wat Phra Singh Temple).
“It is near to the Town Centre in Runcorn and with the future investment plans in Runcorn Town Centre developed to increase footfall into the area, including the Unlock Runcorn project to re-open the Ship Canal and the de-linking of the Silver Jubilee Bridge, this presents an opportunity to highlight an historic item as a local point of interest.
“Work involved the restoration of the sewer gas lamp to its original state and associated interpretation. The lamp has been a forgotten piece of heritage in our area and it had been state of disrepair for a long time now due to natural ageing.
“By restoring it and putting in some interpretation we have ensured that it is maintained and enjoyed so that current and future generations will be able to learn about.”
The restoration involved restoring the light to its original design and colour and incorporating a new solar powered light which to replicate the original lighting. (Breakdown of work involved attached.) The addition of placing of a small interpretation board located next to the lamp will ensure that its use, design and history are understood by the local public and visitors.
The project had the full support from the ward councillors, the Wat Phra Singh Temple, Halton Heritage Partnership, the Runcorn Historical Society and Halton Borough Council’s Highways Section which agreed to maintain the lamp.