Posts Tagged ‘light’

A sun ray lamp

July 27, 2013

There has been a programme on TV recently about household items that caused death in Victorian homes. We’ll move on a generation here and find an object from the 1930s which looks utterly lethal – a sun ray lamp.

A 1930s sunray lamp at Market Lavington Museum

A 1930s sunray lamp at Market Lavington Museum

And that’s it. We appear to have a reflector behind a couple of radiant electric coils but at the centre are a couple of carbon electrodes and if they were the right distance apart an electric arc would pass between them.  The protection from prying fingers is just about nil. But then, the aim was to let the heat, light and UV radiation reach a person. And those carbon electrodes would have needed regular adjustment. I expect most users turned them off before grabbing hold of live bits!

Let’s look more closely at those electrodes.


Carbon electrodes to produce arc light and heat

Yes, that looks very scary!

The whole item was powered from the mains via a low current 2 pin plug which means all that metal work was unearthed. The plug itself probably got nearly red hot which, maybe, was why it was fitted with a boot lace to pull it out of the socket.

The plug (and the flex as well) appear lethal to 21st century eyes.

The plug (and the flex as well) appear lethal to 21st century eyes.

This altogether unwholesome device belonged to a White Street (Market Lavington) resident who lived to a good old age.

See also The sun ray lamp again

Clarke’s Pyramid Food Warmer

March 26, 2011

Market Lavington Museum has one of these wonderful nursery aids which probably dates from the early twentieth century.

The information below comes from the Science Museum website.

‘Pyramid’ food warmer invented by Samuel Clarke, England, 1888-1920

This device could be used to heat a pint of milk, keep food warm or to prepare pap. Flour or bread was mixed with milk diluted with water to make pap, which could be used to wean infants off breast milk. The metal jug was filled with hot water and the ceramic pannikin was placed inside it. The jug was then placed in the stand. To provide heat a lit candle or a tea-light was placed underneath. The device was trade marked by Samuel Clarke as a ‘Pyramid’ food warmer as the different parts stack up like a pyramid.

Here is the device.

Clarke's Pyramid Food Warmer at Market Lavington Museum

Sadly, the lid has needed repair but we can still see the warning messages about the dangers of fire and to health.

The lid - damaged but with warning messages still visible

The food warmer was used as a nursery item and users were warned that the milk should be boiled before being used in the warmer. Apart from anything else, boiling helped to avoid the dread disease known as consumption which we call tuberculosis. This was a real concern before the days of pasteurised milk.

But for the child in the nursery that probably was not so important. Perhaps they liked the tongue twister type rhyme on the warmer.

A slogan in the form of a rhyme for children to enjoy

When nights are dark then think of Clarke
Who’s hit the mark precisely
For his night-lights create light-nights
In which you see quite nicely.

Even the tray for the night light has been given decoration, although in use and with a night light on it, this would not be seen.


The tray for the night light