Feature, Outdoor

Britain’s oldest light maker goes bust

A Sugg gas lantern – originally made in 1901 at the company’s factory in Westminster in central London – dwarfs a sentry of the Grenadier Guards outside the entrance to Buckingham Palace

THE UK’s oldest lighting company, which counts the Queen among its customers, has ceased trading.

One of the company’s first stands at a trade exposition in London.

Sugg Lighting Limited, which had been in business for 182 years, is world famous for traditional street lights with both gas and electric light sources and has supplied palaces, government buildings and prestigious heritage projects around the world.

Its gas lights have been illuminating the entrance to Buckingham Palace since 1901.

The disappearance of its unique offer represents a major blow to those responsible for maintaining lanterns in period properties, parks and the public realm.

Former shareholder F W Thorpe had supplied loans to Sugg but sold its stake to a company called Wessex Bristol.

The battle to keep the company afloat ended this month, and callers to the company’s switchboard are directed to the administrators, Ensors Chartered Accountants in Cambridge.

The closure of Sugg – which was founded in 1837 – brings to an end an illustrious history of British manufacturing.

The first open-flame gas burner was improved by William Sugg with several different flame shapes amongst which the Batwing and Fishtail burners were early improvements.

The Argand burner – based on the oil lamp burner – was adapted by William Sugg for gas to achieve a more powerful flame but was more complicated to manufacture. Both were superseded by the incandescent gas burner in the 1880s.

Many of its nineteenth century installations continue to survive in excellent working order today.

The Sugg brand, assets, tooling, customer list and work in progress are set to be sold this week to one of a number of interested parties, including a combined management and family bid. 


  • Creditors should contact Ensors Chartered Accountants, Platinum Building, St John’s Innovation Park, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0DS. Telephone 01223 420721