LONDON’S ‘GREENEST’ SEASONAL LIGHTS BRING FESTIVE SPARKLE TO VILLIERS STREET
Seasonal lights powered by used cooking oil from local businesses including Gordon’s Wine Bar and Champagne Charlies will be switched on along London’s Villiers Street on 10th November 2016. This is the first time lights will be powered this way in central London, making them the capital’s most environmentally friendly festive lights. Christmas lights will also be returning to the Strand, following their debut last year.
The lights are sponsored by The Northbank Business Improvement District and PricewaterhouseCoopers, whose global headquarters is located on Villiers Street. It is particularly fitting that the area will be sparkling with over one hundred thousand festive lights – The Northbank was the first area in London to get electric street lighting back in 1878, and The Savoy Theatre on the Strand was the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity in 1891.
Fast forward more than 130 years and businesses in the area are innovating once again. The PricewaterhouseCoopers building on Villiers Street is a particularly environmentally friendly building, rated BREEAM Outstanding (the highest possible rating). It has the capacity to generate power from biofuel on site and now around 50% of the building’s energy is powered by biofuel. The used cooking oil is collected from local businesses, and others within the M25 area, and delivered to the PwC HQ where the oil is transformed into biofuel.
The sponsors wanted to make the Villiers Street lights an exemplar of sustainability, not least as next to Oxford Street, Villiers Street has the highest pedestrian footfall in the whole of London. The lights on Villiers Street will remain in place for the winter season, even after the Strand lights come down on 6th January 2017.
Ruth Duston, Chief Executive of The Northbank Business Improvement District said:
“The Northbank has long been synonymous with innovation and we are proud to continue the trend this Christmas. Thousands of people visit our area every day, including workers, tourists and residents, and we are home to some of the most iconic London Christmas traditions such as Skate at Somerset House and the world famous Trafalgar Square Tree – we’re thrilled to be adding some additional festive magic!”
Steve Sherwood, Director of Operations and Infrastructure at PricewaterhouseCoopers said:
“We are proud to have been part of The Northbank community for the last 25 years – we care about our responsibilities as an employer with a significant presence in the area and we are committed to do all we can to create a welcoming environment for employees, visitors and local residents. Our sustainability programme is an important part of this commitment, and this extends to our involvement in the seasonal lights on Villiers Street. We are keen to work with more local businesses, so would encourage others to come forward if they want us to recycle their used cooking oil.”
The Strand’s first ever Christmas Lights in 2015 were a huge success, acting as a beautiful focal point for some of London’s best known Christmas activities, like the Snowman and SKATE, and venues for festive parties or intimate drinks by a warm fire. We have had wonderful feedback from local businesses, students and media for the lights running from the famous Trafalgar Square Christmas tree to the beautiful St Mary le Strand which was also lit up for Christmas. Visitors have also shared their photos of the lights over social media.
See our gallery of images from the light switch-on here.
Did you know…?
…that the Savoy Theatre was the first public building in the world to be permanently lit by electricity?
Or that Victoria Embankment had the world’s first street lights? You can still see the original dolphin emblems on the lights today!
We even have the last remaining Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp on Carting Lane.
We’re delighted (pun absolutely intended) to have now brought the first Christmas lights to the Strand to add to the cultural diversity here during the winter season.