Gaslight 1954

A Memory of Uxbridge.

In the early 50's many streets in Uxbridge were still lit by gas. So "lighting up time" had a whole different meaning. The iron lampposts were much lower than the lighting masts of today and were more widely placed along the streets. Street lighting then had a different function because the lights were to illuminate the pavement, not so much the roadway. I lived in Frays Waye which was entirely lit by gas and there was not one household that had a car. So lighting the walkways was more important. I had a great uncle who was a lamplighter before and during the war. But by the 50's a pilot light had been installed and was ignited by an electric clockwork timer. There was a lamppost directly outside our house and if you stood underneath it you could heart the tick-tock of the timer. The lighting effect was limited so there were dark patches between each post. The pathway crossing Rockingham recreation ground had no illumination at all between the bottom corner of Frays Waye and the upper corner of the stone bridge crossing the river. Many people carried torches at night. Especially if there was a fog - and being in the damp air between the Colne and the Frays and with every home burning coal, there were often some real pea-soupers in the winter months.  There was also a row of terraced cottages in Waterloo Rd that still had the gas brackets intact in the sitting rooms, though whether they were still in use I don't know. I loved looking out of my bedroom window and seeing the twinkling gaslights along the road, especially on windy nights when the flames danced and flickered. We hated the new fluorescent lamps that replaced the gas. (I forget which year). They were taller and brighter and shed a harsh light in our bedrooms. Even today, so many decades later, if I have trouble sleeping I imagine the sound of the wind in the poplars around Rockingham rec. and the rain pattering on my bedroom window and the fluttering glow of the gaslight.  Works like a charm!

Added 31 October 2012


Comments & Feedback

We used to have gaslight lamps in Walford Road. I remember one Christmas a group of carol singers standing under the one opposite our house singing carols. There was a covering of snow on the ground so with the gaslight flickering on them it was quite magical. I have never forgotten that feeling of joy..

I also remember that every so often a man would come round to maintain the lamps. He would turn up cycling his bike with a ladder over this shoulder. He would get off.his bike, rest his ladder on the arm provided at the top of the post, go up check the lamp and wick, come down and then go onto the next lamp. No Health and Safety to worry about in those days!

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