William Sugg & Co

Christiania & Argand Burners

(This is an element of ‘Lighting‘ – ‘Interior Lighting‘ and also of ‘Burners‘) In a paper given by Charles Carpenter of the South Metropolitan Gas Company to the Institution of Gas Engineers on 21st June 1922 he says: “About fifty years ago (that would make it the 1870’s) Sugg brought out his world-known Christiania burner, one of the first successful attempts to combine pleasing design with efficiency. The latter result was largely due to the attachment to the burner of an efficient form of regulator by which the gas delivery through it was kept constant at a rate best suited to the jet and the conditions required by the surrounding glass protector. But he also brought into his business the fruits of an artistic temperament, ripened on foreign soil, which permeated in greater or less degree all he undertook. The industry today misses him and the work in which he delighted.”

Christiania Illus & Description 550

The Patent “Christiania” Governor Burner

“Simultaneous with the development of the flat flame burner was that of the Argand type in which the combustion of gas was substituted for that of oil soon after its distribution on a practical scale.” These two burners were manufactured at the same time in huge quantities. In the two illustrations above and below, the common arrangement of three arms which support the glassware can be clearly seen. The essential difference between the two is considerable although both are open flame burners, pre-dating the gas mantle by many years.

London Argand gold painting rot & 20 550 size

Design painting of a gold plated Argand Burner less the glass chimney which fits over the central section located by the thin wire ‘fingers’ that you can see.

There were many beautiful designs of both these burners as well as the fixtures to which they were applied.

Christiania 8 photos rev 550 w
Painted glass 600dpi 550 w

These original photos of Christiania burners – possibly used to add names – make up just one page of several in a scrapbook of designs illustrating the extraordinary lengths taken to produce the widest possible choice for the customer. The top two are the same simple burner, here named the Alexandra, with two different arm spans, 4″ and 7″.The remainder are genuine Christiania governor burners. The most significant feature of these fixtures was the glassware, exquisitely hand painted in France and heavily marketed with what is very early colour literature.

The beautiful glass was hand painted in France

Christiania card ad 2 360 w

This is the box label from an actual burner.

The whole range of glassware was illustrated on individual advertising cards, many of which are shown below. The cards carried details on the rear as shown above.

The full name ‘Princess Christiania’ was used for the shaped glass models.

 The name was simplified to just ‘Christiania’ for the globe shaped models below.

Christiania advert 300dpi 550 pix

Set of Three Advertising Cards for the Christiania Fixtures

Catalogue Pages 138 cut rot 550

 This advert shows both Argand and Christiania burners with glassware. The chimney on the Argand burners makes the overall height considerably taller than the Christiania resulting in the two piece arrangement with a lower bowl and an upper cone.

The Argand Burner is based on a circular wick oil burner designed by Monsieur Argand and uses a glass chimney to draw a current of air around the outside and up the centre of the circular flame in the same way. In the gas version there is a ring of holes in a steatite burner to produce the circular flame. The result is a strong circular ‘tube’ of flame distributing light evenly through 360 degrees.

The ‘London’ Argand burner shown on the left of the four versions above is the original one developed by William Sugg after many experiments to produce a perfect, controllable, luminous, bright, flame. This is the burner that the Gas Referees adopted in 1869 as the Standard Test Burner for the Metropolis and for which they stated that

“This burner of Mr Sugg’s excels all others.”

This much later illustration from the 1909 catalogue shows several developments of the Argand burner manufactured for particular Gas Companies which were still being used for testing the gas well after the introduction of the mantle.

P1040235 260 Argand pr

These two Argand burners show the comparison between, on the left, a single ring and on the right a double ring version.

In order to increase the performance of these burners for street lighting they were constructed with a series of concentric circles of flames, the larger ones having complex arrangements for adjusting the individual rings. The larger the burner, the longer the chimney to provide suitable draught to raise the flame to its highest state of incandescence. These chimneys reached from 12 to 18 inches in length and were as a result very unevenly heated which resulted in a danger of breakage. William designed a compound chimney having a short glass section the height of the flame and a metal section above this. It seems, however, that the process of lighting these burners was more complicated and time consuming and that they may well have been sabotaged by the legion of lamp lighters in their hurry to light the number of lamps they were expected to light within a certain time. Eventually William decided to concentrate his efforts for street lighting burners on the flat flame burner.

(illustration of multiple ring Argand street lighting burner to come)


Copyright © Chris Sugg 2006-13

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Site Background & Header

The background to the site is a modern picture of Westminster, the ‘home’ of William Sugg for so many years. It was taken from the roof of The House of Lords during a visit by the Heritage Group of CIBSE in 2004 and centres on Westminster Abbey. The header carries a woodcut of ‘Vincent Works’, the Sugg factory, which might well have been visible from this vantage point. William used this on one of his letter heads. The first and oldest logo also shows the intimate connection with Westminster as it carries the Westminster portcullis with the inscription ‘en avant’ – ‘in advance’. The second logo replaced the earlier one around 1920 and was used right the way through the century until the ‘modern’ era when the ‘flame’ logo was applied to the new era of gas heating equipment with the new factory in Crawley.

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William Sugg & Co