The Victorians Lit Farts To See At Night?

Discussion in 'Urban Legends & Folklore' started by GNC, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

    Messages:
    23,778
    Likes Received:
    7,182
    Trophy Points:
    284
    In the most recent FT's Mythconceptions, someone writes in to ask if anyone else heard that the Victorians used sewer gas to light their gas lamps in the street (before electricity became the norm). I have never heard of this, and am pretty sure the writer-in is mistaken, but just in case: any truth to this?
     
    AlchoPwn likes this.
  2. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

    Messages:
    30,150
    Likes Received:
    13,913
    Trophy Points:
    284
    LOCATION:
    Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
    AFAIK, they used coal-gas (AKA town gas) - made from heating coal.
     
  3. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

    Messages:
    23,778
    Likes Received:
    7,182
    Trophy Points:
    284
    Yeah, I don't know how reliable sewer gas would be.
     
  4. David Plankton

    David Plankton Antediluvian

    Messages:
    5,137
    Likes Received:
    5,840
    Trophy Points:
    294
    AlchoPwn and Krepostnoi like this.
  5. JamesWhitehead

    JamesWhitehead Piffle Prospector

    Messages:
    10,983
    Likes Received:
    6,380
    Trophy Points:
    309
    LOCATION:
    Manchester, UK
    Yes! We had one at the corner of the street, where I grew up in Southport. My father told me it was a sewer-lamp and that was the reason it remained in use, when all the other gas-lamps were electrified. It stayed lit for many years.

    I can't say when it was dimmed for the last time. For a long time after, the lantern remained. Now, I think, just the post remains - or did the last time I looked. For the record, the location was next to the former Belmont Street Railway Bridge - a beloved piece of infrastructure, which was demolished in the 1970s. :salute:

    I see Wikipedia has a page on what are officially-termed Gas Destructor Lamps! :fire:



    Oooh! At a slightly geeky tangent, I see that my home town lent its name to a type of gas-lamp lit by coal gas! :clap:
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
    Cochise and Krepostnoi like this.
  6. Xanatic*

    Xanatic* Justified & Ancient

    Messages:
    2,396
    Likes Received:
    1,625
    Trophy Points:
    154
    Berlin has an outdoors gas street lamp museum. Different styles from different regions all lit with gas.
     
  7. INT21

    INT21 Justified & Ancient

    Messages:
    2,034
    Likes Received:
    1,084
    Trophy Points:
    154
    I had, a long time ago, a brother in law who was both bold and brash.

    The matter of fart flammability came up, and he, not being bashful, suggested that this theory be 'put to the test'.

    So, he dropped his pants and while bent over someone applies a light to a particularly vigorous fart that he released.

    It was a long and loud one; possibly one he had been saving for just such an occasion. And it did indeed burn with a yellow flame.

    However he forgot that when a flame dies out it burns back to the source.

    For weeks he had a rather strange walk and prefers not to discuss the matter.

    INT21
     
    XEPER_, Swifty, Spudrick68 and 6 others like this.
  8. Kingsize Wombat

    Kingsize Wombat Abominable Snowman

    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    631
    Trophy Points:
    94
    It's what is referred to here as the "Dance of the Flaming Arse". Popular with Football club players.

    A variation allows you to dance with a burning newspaper stuck in your butt cheeks.
     
    Jim and Frideswide like this.
  9. JamesWhitehead

    JamesWhitehead Piffle Prospector

    Messages:
    10,983
    Likes Received:
    6,380
    Trophy Points:
    309
    LOCATION:
    Manchester, UK
    Spike Milligan has a chapter in his memoirs, which touches on the power of this methane weapon against the Hun, more properly considered a diversion before combat.

    Umpteen Youtube videos demonstrate the real science behind this very non-Fortean phenomenon. I may supply the URLs, when I next feel like perusing a lot of spotty teenage butts - though I normally leave that kind of thing to PE teachers!
    Smiley-for-methane-fart-unfound. Substitute sea-monster! :mattack:
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
    Frideswide likes this.
  10. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

    Messages:
    30,150
    Likes Received:
    13,913
    Trophy Points:
    284
    LOCATION:
    Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
  11. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

    Messages:
    23,778
    Likes Received:
    7,182
    Trophy Points:
    284
    What do you know, I was sceptical I admit, but it's a genuine bit of Victorian kit! And that's almost a poem. Thanks for the replies.
     
  12. RyoHazuki

    RyoHazuki Ephemeral Spectre

    Messages:
    386
    Likes Received:
    379
    Trophy Points:
    64
    LOCATION:
    Last refuge of the Druids
    I remember, as a child, my older brother warning me that there was a very small chance of a backdraft effect causing the gases still inside my digestive tract to ignite violently, thus explaining many cases of SHC. Consequently I never tried lighting my farts, and to be honest I probably still wouldn't - I mean, you could never be 100% sure, could you?
     
    Spudrick68 likes this.
  13. AlchoPwn

    AlchoPwn Abominable Snowman

    Messages:
    584
    Likes Received:
    663
    Trophy Points:
    93
    FFS I took the title of this literally and was picturing:

    Watson: I say old chap, it's frightfully dark out. Can't see a thing. We'll never catch Moriarty in this darkness.
    Holmes: Never fear Watson, I anticipated this situation and took appropriate steps.
    Watson: Well that's a relief. I assume you brought a lantern then?
    Holmes: On the contrary Watson, a constant source of light would give away our position.
    Watson: So what did you do?
    Holmes: Do you remember that I insisted that we dine on a double helping of baked beans this evening at the Bear
    and Barley Inn?
    Watson: I do indeed. They have been plaguing me.
    Holmes: Plaguing us both I am sure Watson, but I have with me some half dozen boxes of matches, and if we can control our flatulence in the presence of flame, this should afford a moment of high illumination for a brief moment that will allow us the visibility we need, while not betraying our position for more than a second or two.
    Watson: Why Holmes, that's diabolically clever.
    Holmes: You are assuming the plan will work Watson.
     
    XEPER_, Maviself, Swifty and 6 others like this.
  14. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

    Messages:
    23,778
    Likes Received:
    7,182
    Trophy Points:
    284
    I just wanted an attention-grabbing title. It's the tabloid headline writer in me.
     
    Swifty and AlchoPwn like this.
  15. poozler

    poozler Ephemeral Spectre

    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    59
    LOCATION:
    melbourne australia
    It made me look. Well done.
     
  16. Yossarian

    Yossarian Junior Acolyte

    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    155
    Trophy Points:
    39
    There's one working "sewer gas lamp" in London, on Carting Lane (or "Farting Lane") near the Savoy Hotel, and apparently more than 20 remaining in Sheffield.

    I don't think they were used for lighting as their primary purpose - it was a way to efficiently dispose of methane escaping from sewers, and the lighting was just a handy byproduct of that. So they weren't necessarily "replaced" by electric lights.
     
  17. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

    Messages:
    30,150
    Likes Received:
    13,913
    Trophy Points:
    284
    LOCATION:
    Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
    I can't remember ever seeing one when I lived in Sheffield (although I wasn't looking for gas lamps).
     
  18. His Extremely DeLux Self

    His Extremely DeLux Self Fresh Blood

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    13
    LOCATION:
    san francisco california usa
    It may be only vaguely germane, but one afternoon when i was trying to light a very short butt (it was a roach, to be perfectly honest), I erupted with a good-sized burp. To my astonishment, a blue flame six inches long shot forth from my mouth! It singed the fine hairs off my upper lip, too.

    PS my 18th post in FT Forums is #18 in this thread! Coincidence? I think not!:bomb:
     
  19. XEPER_

    XEPER_ Abominable Snowman

    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    424
    Trophy Points:
    69
    LOCATION:
    Glasgow
    I think you meant Mori-farty.
    "Sherlock Holmes and the Red-Arsed League"
     
    AlchoPwn likes this.
  20. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

    Messages:
    30,150
    Likes Received:
    13,913
    Trophy Points:
    284
    LOCATION:
    Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
    Had you been drinking spirits?
     
  21. His Extremely DeLux Self

    His Extremely DeLux Self Fresh Blood

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    13
    LOCATION:
    san francisco california usa
    I hadn't been drinking that day, no; it was a day for smoking reefers.
     
  22. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

    Messages:
    30,150
    Likes Received:
    13,913
    Trophy Points:
    284
    LOCATION:
    Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
    You may be a dragon without realising it. That is the most obvious explanation!
     
  23. GNC

    GNC King-Sized Canary

    Messages:
    23,778
    Likes Received:
    7,182
    Trophy Points:
    284
    Special feature on the letters page of FT 368 on the sewer gas lamps, complete with pics of two still active.
     
    JamesWhitehead and escargot like this.
  24. Eponastill

    Eponastill Abominable Snowman

    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    468
    Trophy Points:
    94
    LOCATION:
    generally on the fringes
    WEBSITE:
    http://forteanfindings.blogspot.co.uk/
    This is weirdly fascinating. There's a great long list of the ones in Sheffield here
    http://www.alancordwell.co.uk/Legacy/misc/webb.html
    But what I want to know is, how would I know one of these lamps if I saw one? Or are gas lamps so stupidly rare that if I spot a gas-lit lamp, it's got to be a sewer gas lamp?

    I think I may have answered my own question there.
     
  25. EnolaGaia

    EnolaGaia I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,463
    Likes Received:
    5,976
    Trophy Points:
    294
    LOCATION:
    USA
    The lamps designed to co-burn sewer gas were invented by Webb. As you can see in one of the photos on the webpage you cited, a Webb lamp's base displays its origin as "Webb Lamp Co."

    Whether or not a functional Webb lamp is still rigged / connected so as to burn off sewer gases is a different question.
     
  26. Eponastill

    Eponastill Abominable Snowman

    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    468
    Trophy Points:
    94
    LOCATION:
    generally on the fringes
    WEBSITE:
    http://forteanfindings.blogspot.co.uk/
    Thank you. I shall keep my eyes peeled.
     
  27. escargot

    escargot Beloved of Ra

    Messages:
    21,492
    Likes Received:
    11,160
    Trophy Points:
    309
    LOCATION:
    Farkham Hall
    I went to some art degree shows a few years go and saw a display all about the lamps being run from sewer gas. It may have been at Wrexham College. I'll look through my old photos and see if I can find any of it. I was fascinated at the time!
     
  28. INT21

    INT21 Justified & Ancient

    Messages:
    2,034
    Likes Received:
    1,084
    Trophy Points:
    154
    Bearing in mind that sewage processing works are using bio digesters to process human sewage into Methane to run their own generators it really isn't so surprising that the Victorians latched onto the idea.

    Very clever, the Victorians. They never let Health and Safety get in the way of a experiment.

    INT21
     

Share This Page