Thursday, 13 February 2014

"Farewell to the leeries" - Sepia Saturday

When I saw this week's prompt of a Glasgow street, I thought 'Oh. No!'

'I've done omnibuses and buses before.'

But when I looked closer this is what I saw.

The Glasgow Herald of 2nd September 1971 carried the headline, "Glasgow says farewell to the leeries."

Reading further it reported that the Lord Provost had lit the only remaining gas lamp in Glasgow for the last time. In 1780 street lighting was provided by 9 oil lamps and the first gas lamps dated from 1818.

We know that London had gas lamps earlier that that,Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) recorded the reactions to gas lights in Pall Mall.

Caricature - engraved by Thomas Rowlandson, 1809 from a drawing by Woodward
The dialogue reads:

Well-informed gentleman
"The Coals being steam'd produces tar or paint for the outside of Houses -- the Smoke passing thro' water is deprived of substance and burns as you see."
"Arragh honey, if this man bring fire thro water we shall soon have the Thames and the Liffey burnt down -- and all the pretty little herrings and whales burnt to cinders."
Rustic bumpkin
"Wauns, what a main pretty light it be: we have nothing like it in our Country."
"Aye, Friend, but it is all Vanity: what is this to the Inward Light?"
Shady Female
"If this light is not put a stop to -- we must give up our business. We may as well shut up shop."
Shady Male
"True, my dear: not a dark corner to be got for love or money."

All this reminded me of the 1940 novel by Michael Sadlier, later made into a film and even later a BBC TV series, called  'Fanny by Gaslight' - an exploration of prostitution in the Victorian London of the 1880s. But that's a different theme.

My researching for gas lights and men up ladders led me even further afield.

Stockholm Gas Light - Gustav Adolf Hallqvist tends his last light at Norrbro, 18 December 1953
(By Gunnar Lang)
Installation of lights in Berlin required more than one man and a much bigger ladder.

August Fuhrmann - Installation of Gas Lights in Berlin 1890
I have a vague recollection of houses in the village where I was born that were lit by gas, but can't think of where I have seen any gas street lights.

However anyone would remember seeing the greatest gas lights of all, wherever you are..

Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights
(Bear Lake, Alaska - US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Joshua Strang)
In the Southern hemisphere you would see the Aurora Australis. Aurora are caused by solar particles colliding with gases (oxygen and nitrogen) in the Earth's atmosphere. It's the excited gas molecules that give the lights their colour.

To see what others have got excited about this week cross over to Sepia-Saturday-215.


Marc Latham said...

Nice blog, great old photos.

Postcardy said...

Your theme made me think of the similarity of "Glasgow" and "gas glow."

R. Mac Wheeler said...

enjoyed your final contrast :)

Karen S. said...

Great photos Bob and I like how you went with this post! The list of men is quite interesting too! I think I've met a few in my life already! hehhe!

Little Nell said...

Well done - it pays to look closer, especially at these very busy, detailed scenes. You homed in on an interesting topic and made me think those old gas street lamps were so much more attractive than modern ones.

Doug Peabody said...

Great take on this week's theme!

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I never saw gaslights in a city, but maybe in an amusement park. There is definitely a different color given from burning gas than the various electric bulbs. Nice segway to Auroras.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous. I love a little history lesson. As to those precious comments on the cartoon. So varied - makes you think of all the different reactions to the idea of global warming. Great post.

Wendy said...

I enjoyed this so much, especially the cartoon with various perspectives on that new-fangled invention, gas lights.

Rob From Amersfoort said...

I didn't know the polar lights were caused by gas molecules. Although I don't like cold climates I hope to see it one day.

ScotSue said...

A fascinating "take" on this week's photograph - I had never spotted that lamplighter.

Jo Featherston said...

Fascinating, and very astute of you to notice what the man up the ladder was doing in the photograph! I'd never heard of the term 'leeries' before, but now know lots about them after reading your blog and checking that article. Thanks Bob!

Lovely's Blot said...

An interesting post. My great great grandfather was a lamplighter in Merthyr Tydfil. When I decorated my 1930 house I found a gas pipe in the wall for we assume was for a gas light.

Kristin said...

I lived in a house with unused gas wall lamps. I've never seen any gas street lights but I have seen the Northern Lights. Amazing. Awe inspiring.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I do like where your omnibuses led you!

Patrica Ball Morrison said...

I have learned again something new, Leeries. I might have thought that a creature from Star Wars before this. At Christmas time I display e a small collectible, knick knack, of a gas lamp lighter atop his ladder. It matches your post.

La Nightingail said...

Gorgeous picture of the Northern Lights, & how astute of you to home in on that lamplighter!

Mike Brubaker said...

I'm glad you picked out that detail of the street lamp, Bob. It seemed an unexpected activity for a photo like that. Recently I investigated old railway/street lights in a vintage 1910 photo from Austria/Italy. They were hung on post with a chain system that allowed them to be lowered to be lit. The fuel was kerosene and it was common in Germany/Austria.

Joy said...

I was squinting at the Rawlinson print speech bubbles, should have scrolled down earlier where you had already done the work for me! Fascinating riff on the theme. I remember someones saying in the 60s their old aunt still had gas lighting; that fact must have been so unusual enough to stick in my mind.

Tina Marie said...

Wow, Bob this was a great post. It reminds me to pay attention to the detail and you will always find a story. I enjoyed it!

Rosie said...

I thoroughly enjoyed all the little quotes about the lights, especially the Shady Lady and the Shady Man...LOL

Caminante said...

Nice post, Bob. It reminded me that we still had some gas street lights in Lancaster when I was a boy.

Alex Daw said...

I always feel that we are camping for sure when I hear the hiss of a gas light in the tent.

Joan said...

You did have fun with this theme -- and by doing so, brought a bit of fun to the rest of your Sepian friends. Thanks.

anyjazz said...

Gosh, I didn't see that guy back there on the ladder. Good spotting!