ACADEMIC fans of Narnia creator C S Lewis could come to the defence of Malvern's gas lamps, which inspired a famous scene in one of his novels.

The future of the gas lamps has once again been raised after parish councils around Malvern were hit with unexpected top-up bills to pay for their maintenance and running.

The lamps were the inspiration for a scene in Lewis's much-loved novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

The president of the Oxford C S Lewis Society, lecturer Judith Tonning, told the Malvern Gazette yesterday that the society is prepared to speak up if the lamps were threatened.

She said: "It would be a very sad day indeed for admirers of Lewis if these lamps were to go.

"As a non-profit organisation, we don't have any funds ourselves which we can use to pay to preserve the lamps, but we can raise our voice.

"We have spoken out in the past, not without success. There was a proposal to demolish The Kilns, Lewis's house here in Oxford, and that was withdrawn after a campaign in which we played our part."

Malvern currently has 102 gas lamps, split between the parishes of Malvern town, the Wells and West Malvern.

The three councils were shocked to receive bills for maintaining the lamps from Malvern Hills District Council, over and above the previously-agreed figures. The Wells was charged an extra £1400, Malvern town £639, and West Malvern £798.

Wells parish chairman Malcolm Victory is promoting a suggestion that the lamps could be sponsored to keep them going. He hopes the idea can be put on the agenda at the next parish council meeting on June 24.