Victorian Era Lighting: Electricity, Candles, Oil lamps, Chandeliers, Gas

In the initial years of the Victorian era almost every house used candles or oil lamps to light the house. Sources of lighting were considered while designing house interiors. e.g.in the case of chandeliers, they are suspended from the ceiling so there should be something to hold it to the ceiling and scones were fixed to the wall.

Mostly, candlesticks, bracketed sticks, oil lamps and the light given by fire were the source of lighting. Victorian era lamps are known for floral imagery and ornate lampshades with hanging tassels. With time, new inventions like the gas lighting and electricity became popular. The Victorian style of lamps can be divided into Candles, Oil lamps, Gas and Electricity.

Candles were an essential source of lighting and Paraffin lamps came to be introduced in 1860s. There were three types of candles tallow, spermaceti and beeswax. By the end of the 18th century, modern paraffin wax candle was used because it was cheaper, odorless and reliable. The candles were widely used for carrying out all the activities like cooking, playing cards until the time when electricity was commonly available.

Oil lamps were the cheapest light source available. The end of 18th century saw much brighter and classy lamps of which Argand is the important. The bad effect of this lamp was that the colza oil was very thick and sticky and had to be poured in the wick either from a reservoir that was placed above it or was to be pumped from below. One of the most crucial improvements during this time was the introduction of Paraffin.

Use of gas for lighting buildings and streets began during the early years of 19th century. Gas wall brackets replaced the sconce. These gas light fittings pointed upwards that aimed the light towards the ceiling and away from the point where the light was required. It was in 1897 that the gas mantles pointed downwards.

Gas lights were made of plain brass, copper or iron gas supply tubes that had a tap for switching the gas on and off. In 1879 the first viable incandescent light bulb was made. These bulbs were found in a wide range of shapes and designs. In 1901, when Queen Victoria died, electricity was still seldom used. Electricity was widely used in cities and large towns along with candles and oil lamps.

However, in small towns and villages or even in the countryside, people continued to use candles and oil lamps. It was post the First World War that electricity emerged as a popularly used source of lighting. In the Victorian period, there was no particular design that gave the Victorian era the character it had. This era is greatly influenced from the mixture of the Tudor, Romantic Elizabethan, and the Gothic design traditions.

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