Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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9 May 2011

On becoming an honorary Gasketeer

Receiving my certificate from Brian Harper, one of three Gasketeers who travelled to the Tagore Festival...

On Saturday I did a talk at the Tagore Festival which I hope to get a film of up soon.  Instead of using powerpoint, I told the story of Transition using different objects which different initiatives had sent me.  It went really well, and was a really enjoyable way of doing it.  One of the most substantial ‘props’ was a fully functioning Victorian gas lamp which the Malvern Gasketeers had brought all the way from Malvern that morning.  My thinking had been that the crescendo of my talk would be to invite them onstage and that they would light the lamp for all to see.  However, while setting up we were told that in order to light it we would have needed a licence from the local Council, so it remained unlit, albeit rather beautiful nonetheless. 

My talk at the Tagore Festival, with the gas lamp in pride of place...

After the talk, the three Gasketeers presented me with a beautiful certificate certifying that I will “henceforth be known as a Gasketeer”.  Very lovely of them.  It is an amazing initiative…  They have reduced the costs of maintaining 104 of Malvern’s historic gas lamps (the inspiration for the lamp post in C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’) from £580 each per year (£130 for gas, £450 for maintenance) to just £70 per year (£20 for gas and £50 for maintenance).  They have made them 10 times brighter than they were before, and they now produce no light pollution at all.  Here’s a short film about them…

The current expense of running the lamps brings them to costing the same as sodium or LED lamps, but they are now working on a scheme to power them with gas produced through anaerobic digestion, which would make them genuinely carbon neutral.  Also, sodium lamps last around 30 years before they need replacing, these last 100 years.  All repairs are done by Lynn Jones, the UK’s first female gas lamp technician, who does her maintenance rounds with everything she needs (including her ladder) on a bicycle trailer.  It really is a wonderful scheme, and my certificate now has pride of place in my house…