Do YOU know what these glass tiles on pavements are for?

Nobody can agree what the glass blocks you see on pavements are for – so, do YOU know the purpose?

  • Reddit users have come up with different ideas for what the tiles could be for
  • Read more: Do YOU know what B&Q stands for? 

Social media users have started a hilarious debate over the purpose of square glass tiles on pavements after one Reddit user was left stumped.

Taking to a UK-based discussion group, the confused poster asked: ‘Apart from making it extra slippy when it rains, what are these for?’

They shared a picture of square glass tiles with the post, starting a lively discussion online on what the tiles are used for, with suggestions ranging from decoration to hopscotch grids.

The tiles, also known as pavement lights, are skylights that let natural light into basement spaces below.

They first appeared in London in the late 1880s and can be used on bridge walkways, balconies and mezzanine floors.

Social media users have started a hilarious debate over the purpose of square glass tiles on pavements after one Reddit user was left stumped

Also known as smoke outlets, the tiles have a dual purpose and can serve as a key part of fire protection for underground spaces.

Firefighters can use a pick-axe to remove one of the squares, allowing the smoke to rise and escape out of the top of the basement. 

While the tiles can often be spotted on high streets, the public seems to have different ideas on why they are there.

In response to the Reddit post, several users took the opportunity to show off their knowledge of pavement light smoke outlets.

One wrote: ‘Letting light pass through into a basement/cellar.’

Another said: ‘To let light into the cellar. The building will have been built before the popularisation of electric lighting, so it’s “free light rather than using candles that cost money.’

Some shared their own experiences of being underneath a pavement light, with one saying: ‘I once viewed a flat in London that turned out to be underground. The light in the bathroom came through those in the “ceiling”.’

They concluded saying that ‘they were still asking for 1400/month.’

Many users shared that the tiles are used for letting light into the basement, with some sharing their own experiences

 Another wrote: ‘When I worked at an investment bank in London, all of IT and a dealing room were in the basement. 

‘My colleague and I were “lucky” to have our desks under one of these panels, so we had a bit of daylight during our working days.’

Speaking about its function as a smoke vent in case of a fire, one user wrote: ‘I was taught years ago that they were also a way of attacking a basement fire from a relatively safe position (ex firefighter here).’

Another comment read: ‘If there’s a basement fire, the fire brigade smashes the glass to let the smoke out.’


Meanwhile, other users had their own unique ideas for what the pavement light smoke outlets could be used for

Meanwhile, others had more unique ideas about how the panels could be used. 

One suggestion read: ‘To stop vampires spawning in cellars.’

Another suggested they are used for ‘professional Hopscotch tournaments’. 

One admitted: ‘I thought it was for the sewer people when I was a kid.’

Another user said: ‘I thought these lit up when I was younger’ to which one helpfully revealed: ‘At night they do if the lights are on in the basement.’ 

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