Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

An Account of, notable events, Persons and town history - online book

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[98]
CHAPTER VIII.
CANDLES, GAS, AND WATER.
Old-fashioned lighting arrangements.Rushlights.Tallow Candles. Wax Candles.Various Oils.Candlesticks and Snuffers.Formation of the Gas Company.Its first Officials.Its remarkable prosperity.Street Lighting.Meter Lamps.Local Acts of Parliament.The Water Supply.
"8$& Carries nn all oat."(Macbeth).
M ANY a long year elapsed after the introduction of coal-gas for illuminating purposes before East-Bourne obtained the advantages of a gas supply. Rushlights, tallow candles, wax candles, sperm oil, colza oil, and rock oil came on to the stage, and, more or less, passed off it in the succession in which I have just named them. Rushlights had almost disappeared before my time, but tallow candles and wax candles, not self-snuffing, were in use long past the middle of the 19th Century. Candles of this sort required mechanical snuffers, to be operated by hand, and these were either all steel, or steel mounted with silver handles. They resembled a large pair of scissors with a sort of box on one blade which was the receptacle for the burnt portion of wick cut off. These snuffers were either stowed away through the stem of the candlestick, or, in the case of silver candlesticks, kept on a flat tray about 9 inches long. I possess 2 very well-made Sheffield plated bedroom candlesticks which probably came into East-Bourne about 1810, but unfortunately the snuffers belonging to them never reached me in the distribution of the family plate. I have heard that it was a practical joke of olden times for the boys of a family surreptitiously to put a pinch of gunpowder into the box of the snuffers and watch the effect when somebody proceeded to snuff the candle. I never tried the experiment nor saw it done.
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