The National Gas Museum, Leicester
The excellent Gas Museum features a great many exhibits detailing all aspects of the Gas industry - from production to (perhaps) the burner. A number of vintage gas appliances, including a somewhat dangerous-looking gas powered hair dryer, are on display - it is interesting to see the amount of 'New World' gas cookers which have been donated to the Museum - most date from the 1960s and would still work perfectly if connected up (some only stopped being used in 2005!) - obviously things were built to last back then! The photographs below concentrate on some of the gas lighting equipment on display:
A fluted cast iron column supporting a twin-mantle gas lantern is positioned between the stairs at the Museum. Notice the clockwork Horstmann time switch in the lantern.
This display shows various gas lighting equipment - prior to the invention of gas mantles, the only real way of artificially producing light was of course the naked flame - two different types of burner can be seen in use. These are similar to the Bunsen burners seen in the centre of the picture (happy memories of Chemistry lessons are meant to come flooding back at this point!), in that the oxygen in the air is mixed with the gas supply in order to create a visible orange flame. Another Horstmann time switch can also be seen here - this is connected to a pipe supplying three gas mantles - a system still used today in the Park Estate in Nottingham.
This domestic fitting (below two large top-entry railway gas lights) also relies solely on the burning of a naked flame for light (the right-hand 'arm' was lit when the photograph was taken). The unit can be lowered if necessary thanks to a special water seal inside the tube which prevents the gas from escaping.
The Museum is an excellent source of information for all aspects of the Gas industry - helped by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable curator. For more information, go to www.gasmuseum.co.uk .
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