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Westminster Gas Lighting Conversion

FM Conway’s Lighting division has begun delivering an LED roll out programme of heritage lighting within the London Borough of Westminster, converting heritage gas lanterns into more energy efficient infrastructure.

Services used on this project Lighting Structures Traffic Management
Delivering Innovation

Gas lighting was responsible for lighting many of Westminster’s historic areas, including Covent Garden and Knightsbridge, with 299 gas lamps operating across the borough.

However, the high energy and maintenance required to keep these running were proving to be very inefficient, with maintenance for one small part sometimes taking months due to the entire lamp needing to be disconnected from the mains.

This was also emitting a large carbon footprint compared to the equivalent low energy LED. Therefore, FM Conway partnered with WSP to recommend a switch to low energy electricity to which the council agreed.

The new technology enables the LED lanterns to be fully integrated into an online management system that continually monitors their condition. This allows the user to remotely alter the lantern’s brightness settings, switching between low level, atmospheric lighting and brighter lighting for safety or security.

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“We were confident we could convert them using new technology but keep the aesthetics,” said FM Conway Business, Client & technical Support Manager Steve Deakin.

Challenges and Solutions 

The aim of the project was to support Westminster City Council’s ‘City for All’ vision, delivering a beautifully lit night-time environment that meets current lighting standards whilst maintaining Westminster’s world-class heritage aesthetic.

Therefore the atmosphere and appearance of the old gas lamps needed to be replicated with new technology, however great care had to be taken with the heritage lanterns.

“There is not enough space in the old lanterns for the new electrical components, and it would be very difficult to retrofit them because you are dealing with materials that are 80 years old or more,” explained FM Conway Street Lighting Service Manager Gary Thorne.

Therefore, FM Conway worked with Pudsey Diamond Engineering to take moulds of the original handmade cast iron lanterns and columns, in order to replicate them with new aluminium and copper versions.

Another issue facing the team was that the project required them to work in tourist-heavy areas of London, and this required some street closures in order to disconnect the lamps from the gas supply, with some requiring difficult excavations for access.

“The columns can be some distance from the gas main, so we might have to dig a 20m trench through solid concrete around services to get to the point of disconnection,” added Gary.

Therefore, close collaboration with the business’s Traffic Management division was essential to help with road and footway closures.

“Some of the areas they’re in, like Covent Garden, are very busy with tourists and shoppers, so we have to shut some really busy streets,” explained FM Conway Senior Contracts Manager Aaron Clark.


The project was successfully delivered, providing Westminster’s streets with a safer, well-lit environment, with a reduced carbon footprint that keeps the area’s iconic aesthetic.

Thanks to the new management system, the new infrastructure also provides a boost in maintenance efficiency, enabling any faults to be fixed in hours rather than months.

Westminster City Council’s Street Lighting Project Manager Dean Wendelborn said: “The method with which FM Conway and suppliers have approached the electrification of our gas assets, both above and below ground, shows the importance they have given to managing the work yet maintaining their aesthetic appearance. This has assisted in greatly reducing the carbon emissions and energy consumption they produce, as part of our climate emergency.

“The new lights look great and the ability to remotely control the output adds flexibility without affecting the aesthetic.”