Tim's One Photograph a Day

The Speenhamland Lamp, Speen Lane, Newbury.

The Speenhamland Lamp.

Speenhamland Lamp.

The Obelisk and Lamp, formerly at the Broadway.

Having covered the Broadway Clock House yesterday, it would be rude not to travel the short distance to photograph its predecessor, the Speenhamland Lamp, at its new location. Now Grade II listed, it stands less than a mile away on the corner of Speen Lane.

Moved in 1888, it was replaced by a far grander affair. However, in its day, the lamp was something very special. The stone for the obelisk was donated by a local business and resident, a Mr Frederick Page. The stone came from his own quarry in Bath, and was transported along the Kennet & Avon Canal, of which he was also Chairman.

The lamp (gas at the time, of course), which was incorporated into the structure, was funded by public subscription. The whole thing celebrated the importance of the coaching trade to Newbury, providing much needed light at a busy junction. It was protected by an iron fence, with stone pillars. There was a water pump on the south side.

The Speenhamland Lamp was one of the earliest public gas lights. Installed in 1828, this was just 3 years after construction of a gas works was authorised.

Moved to its current location in 1888, it stood neglected and forgotten. However, residents of Speen restored it as part of the millenium celebrations, the area landscaped, and an electric light installed. The Speenhamland Lamp was turned on again on the New Year’s Eve.

Sadly, once again it appears to look rather forlorn. It is overpowered by the hedges and trees so close behind it. The lamp itself looks slightly the worse for wear. The obelisk could do with a good clean, as could the brick and paved base it stands on. The provision of the seat in front of it does nothing to improve the vista. Neither does the rubbish bin, located so inappropriately close. A sad state of affairs for such an historic monument.

Photograph Details

  • Taken: 8 Mar 2017
  • Camera: Canon 5D MkIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L II USM
  • Focal Length 67mm
  • F/4.5
  • 1/80 Sec
  • ISO 100

2 thoughts on “The Speenhamland Lamp, Speen Lane, Newbury.

  1. Bob

    Very interesting. Does it have a plaque to tell the casual visitor what it is.? Since it was turned on by who knows who recently I would hope that it is still cared for albeit not at the present.

    1. tim Post author

      Ah yes, I meant to mention the plaque. There is evidence that there was a plaque on it – if you look closely, you can see the tell-tale holes where it was mounted. This is also mentioned on the Historic England listing (historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1393068). I haven’t been down in the dark to see if the lamp still actually works. But, for such a key piece of Newbury history, I passed it several times without particularly noticing it, let alone having any idea that it was historic. Presumably, the dreaded budgetary requirements dictate that the site is not maintained, therefore it will no doubt languish until someone decides to champion the cause again. At which point, it will doubtless cost far more to restore than it would have done to maintain it properly in the first place! Such is the British way of life…

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