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Working deep underground the miners needed light. Candles gave them light but could cause explosions where gases had collected. Safety lamps gave light where candles would be dangerous and could be used to check for gases.
The Davy Lamp
In 1815, Humphry Davy came to Wallsend and met John Buddle. He invented a safetylamp that could be used in gassy places. Around the oil flame there was a fine wire gauze tube. The wire gauze cooled the flame.
Stephenson's Safety Lamp
In a draught, the gauze could become too hot and make the gas explode. George Stephenson was working on a safety lamp at the same time as Davy and he put a glass shield around the gauze. Gaps at the bottom of this glass 'chimney' let in air, but kept out draughts. This was a much safer lamp.
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01-Aug-2007 © North Tyneside Libraries 2007-8