Old Street Lighting - The Lamplighter
The lamplighter – a fond and distant memory.
Early lamp posts were initially powered by gas, without an automatic ignition switch they required a naked flame for ignition. Up until 1881 the illumination of the streets, roads and payments was the sole domain of the lamp lighter.
The lamplighter would start his rounds shortly before dusk, passing through the streets with his ladders and pole resting upon his shoulder, ready for a long walk and up to 300 street lights requiring his almost magical touch and attention. During the 1880′s and 1890′s street crime was a regular occurrence, and so a street light near your door was nothing short of a blessing.
Here is a drawing from the 1800s, depicting a lamp lighter busy at work. The lamp lighter would rest his ladder against a specially constructed set of horizontal bars, still known today as ladder bars, which would support the ladder as he climbed.
The following picture is a modern reproduced set of ladder bars now used for more decorative purposes:
At English lamp posts were very proud of our ecliptic mix of Victorian Street lights still found in London. Please see some of our photographs below.
The British Museum, London: