Posts Tagged ‘acetylene’

At the Lighthouse

May 28, 2015

What! Has Market Lavington, in the middle of landlocked Wiltshire got a lighthouse? Well of course, it all depends on what you mean by a lighthouse. If you mean a tall tower with a flashing lamp at the top used as an aid to shipping, then of course it hasn’t got one. What it has got is a house and works where acetylene was once made. The Hopkins brothers who owned this business called their property ‘The Lighthouse’. Of course, acetylene was made as a fuel for producing a bright light.

We have come across the business before (click here). But this picture of the premises has not been seen on this blog before.

The Lighthouse, Market Lavington in the 1920s

The Lighthouse, Market Lavington in the 1920s

The building we see is on Church Street. The roof we see at the right hand edge is on an outbuilding at the former pub, the Volunteer Arms. We are looking at numbers ten and eight.

The man in the photo, possibly one of the Hopkins brothers, is standing under a sign which tells us what the business was.


There’s enough to see quite clearly that we have acetylene gas engineers.

There was a time when the gas was piped around the village but we believe that finished in the 1930s.

In black and white photos these buildings, now domestic houses, look to have a pronounced pattern in the brickwork. Modern day photos show there are different coloured bricks used but it is a lot less striking.


Acetylene Lamps

October 28, 2014


Our curator remembers a pun from his student days which went, ‘she was only a welder’s daughter but she had acetylene legs’!

At Market Lavington Museum we have acetylene lamps and here is one of them.

Acetylene headlamp used on a motorbike by the Williams family of Easterton

Acetylene headlamp used on a motorbike by the Williams family of Easterton

This is a motorbike headlamp and has the sort of clamp to allow it to fit on a standard lamp bracket. There’s a container for calcium carbide at the bottom and a drip feed water tank above it. The acetylene gas produced is fed to the burner where it produced a bright flame which was ‘concentrated’ by a reflective mirror to give a good beam of light out of the front.

This lamp was owned by the Williams family of Easterton and was cleared out of a barn at Court Close farm and given to the museum. It has suffered some of the ravages of time and the metal body is somewhat pitted and corroded, But it is still a lovely item and reminds us that electricity was not always king.

These days, with the growth in LED headlamps, maybe we should be finding a local example of a filament bulb headlamp to save.