THE NAUGHTY NEON LIGHTS OF SOHO

The blaze of crimson light from the tube … was a sight to dwell upon and never forget

William Ramsay and Morris W Travers upon the discovery of Neon in 1898

Oh Soho, you saucy thing. It’s just one of those places that sucks you in and spits you out the next morning. If you’ve ever stumbled round the streets at night, ducking into a few neighbourhood favourites such as The Hercules’ Pillars and The Compton Cross, you may have found yourself drawn to the various neon lights dotted around. From the sex shops on Brewer Street, to the upstairs massage parlous of Old Compton, neon usually means naughty.

Everyone knows smart means sexy, so the next time you come across one of these signs, exclaim “Oh! Look at that cold cathode gas-discharge light!”, and you’re guaranteed to pull.

Interestingly, it is not coloured glass that gives these signs their distinctive coloured glows, but the various concoctions of neon gas mixed with other elements; Neon is orange, but when mixed with Hydrogen it turns red, Helium – yellow, Carbon Dioxide – white, and Mercury – blue. (That’s your next pub quiz sorted.) And if you really want to impress, the neon light as we know it today was invented by the “Edison of France”, Georges Claude in 1910. You can thank me later.

See how many more naughty neon lights you can find on your next visit, and send them in to us to be featured!