Kids, don’t try this at home!

As more and more smokers congregate outside, should we worry about the hazards of smoking? In 1843 it wasn’t lung-cancer, it was exploding houses that smokers trailed in their wake.

A man in Clerkenwell lit his cigar at a gas light on the outside of a shop, using a paper spill, a curl of paper. And as all debonair gents do, once the cigar was lit, he tossed the paper away. It blew down the pavement grating, into the gas-filled sewer, and ‘an instantaneous explosion of gas took place’. ‘Ten houses only have sustained injury, and these not to any great extent.’

Surely the interesting part of this today is the ‘only’? Man lights cigar, causes explosion that damages ten houses, and the reporter thinks that it wasn’t a big deal?

Elf ‘n’ safety, Victorian-style.