Three lighthouse lamps, mid-19th century-early 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A selection of lighthouse lamps from the 1857-1902. Early lighthouses had used wood and coal fires, pitch pots and candle lanterns to warn ships. However, by the mid-nineteenth century, far more powerful lights had been developed. Seen here (from left to right) are lamps powered by three different fuels - electricity, paraffin and gas (?). Holmes' electric arc lamp was developed in 1857 and first installed in the South Foreland Lighthouse off the Kent coast in 1858. The Douglas paraffin lamp with its six concentric wicks was developed c 1890; and Matthews incandescent mantle lamp, c 1902.