Wednesday 10 September 2008

The importance of the lamp

Lighting in the local community is one of things that is most recent in the western world that has made the biggest difference.

Usually it has been used to extend the working day (aaaghhh) but in fact as can be seen here it also adds to the sense of quality and atmosphere in a community. These lamps are all from Hampstead.

The main one on the right is from the restaurant on the corner of Church Row and Heath Street - and it's a great example of quality workmanship.

Within local government, in communities and local opinion formers there is an ongoing desire to maintain and enhance an area through quality fixtures and fittings. These lights are part of that.

Of course lighting as i say has come on a pace but it's not a thing of just recent times - the first real issue at which there was a demand for lighting Hampstead was in 1774 whereby lighting was identified as a means of countering robbery - this was enhanced by an association in 1789 and by 1828 the area had day and night patrols. This wasn't a small operation, the record shows a paid superintendent, 17 watchmen, and 8 patrols and further 17 watchboxes were provided

So it's especially good to see this string of lamps in Perrin's Lane - not only are they all in one street, but the fact that they are different adds real character.

I realised taking the picture that it's this issue much spoken of about creating 'a sense of place' - an ownership and pride.

Just to finish the story of the arrival of gas and then electric lighting in hampstead the pace of change was great:
- The Local Act of 1774 allowed commissioners to levy a lighting rate for the town
- Oil lamps used were quite sparsely positioned, many larger houses still provided their own lights
- In 1823 the Imperial Gas Light & Coke Co. received permission to lay pipes and gas lamps were provided, beginning in High and Heath streets
- By 1853 Hampstead Borough had 405 lamps
- In 1872 Imperial Gas supplied 935 lamps and the Western Gas Light Co. 126 lamps.

Legislation then enabled private companies to get Board of Trade orders which meant they were bringing electricity to the parish in 1883 and again in 1892. However, The Vestry of Hampstead were opposed but persuaded that it would be profitable to build and run its own electricity undertaking, opened a power station in West Hampstead in 1894, in order to supply both private consumers and the public street lamps.

No comments: