Although we may very much take lighting for granted now, little more than 100 years ago it scarcely existed. These days, we can enjoy having Victorian lamp posts in our own gardens thanks to the huge number that are available, however many neither know nor appreciate the history of the item. This blog will give you a little background information about Victorian lighting, so the next time you look at your Victorian Lantern in your garden, you will know exactly where it came from, and how it came to be such a popular item in the world of garden decoration.
Through large parts of the 18th and 19th century, light at night was non-existent, and this meant that many crimes could take place, completely unseen. All that was available with regards to lighting was the moonlight, and if this was poor then people had the option of carrying their own lanterns to find their way. This only provided light to the immediate area, and still didn’t do much to assure the personal safety of the person carrying it.
The very first public light out on the street was a gas light in Pall Mall, which was put there in 1807. Although this type of light wasn’t widely available until the mid 1800s, it was a huge breakthrough in London, and was the chosen lighting solution for some time, with many of the lights in London still being powered by gas up until the 1930s. The lights themselves weren’t incredibly bright, only providing light for a couple of feet around where they were placed. However, it was useful to help walkers to ascertain exactly where the road was and where it led, as they were able to use the next lamp as something to aim towards.
Arc lighting was the next big step, which was the first light to use electricity as a source of power. Although this was certainly effective, it was too bright for wide use, so wasn’t used to replace all street lights. However, the idea was taken seriously, and research started into making a bulb that would be dim enough to comfortably light both inside and outside of people’s homes.
Joseph Swann, a British scientist, was the first to hint at the filament lamp – which was definitely suitable for use indoors. At the same time, Thomas Edison, who was famous in the field of science in the US, was working on a similar idea, and it was he who produced something that could be reproduced on a large scale. Within a period of just one year, Edison’s creation was being used for 13,000 separate lights, showing just how much of an impact it had. Now, of course, you won’t find a house without a light bulb – and he will be forever known as a game changer in the history of electricity. It seems unusual that something that is so common and easily available to us now was once so rare, but the history of lighting is without a doubt interesting to understand.
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