Illuminating invention| Joe Wooding, Albury & District Historical Society

LIGHT RELIEF: A Sugg lamp in the centre of the Dean and Kiewa streets intersection, looking west, circa 1900. These replaced the kerosene and wicks.
LIGHT RELIEF: A Sugg lamp in the centre of the Dean and Kiewa streets intersection, looking west, circa 1900. These replaced the kerosene and wicks.

The Borough Council, on June 9, 1866 called tenders for a lamp lighter to service the twelve lamps being installed. Locations were not provided.

Specifications included:

“Contractor to light the lamps with the best kerosene oil and wicks. The same provided by contractor. The lamps be lighted every evening at dusk, except when the moon rises before 7pm and kept burning until 1 o’clock next morning, except on full moonlight nights, when the lamps may be extinguished as soon as the moon rises.”

Replies received from Mr L Morton for £200 and Scotty Campbell for £106/10 did not impress the council, who called new tenders.

On June 30, William Green’s submission of £90 was accepted, and became our first lamp lighter.

Alas, seven days later he found the wicks needed were larger than foreseen and withdrew from his contract.

In September, tenders were again called, this time the council was to supply oil and wicks, but there were no takers and moonlight bathed the Albury streets for the next eight months.

In February 1867, Mr O’Sullivan surfaced, temporarily.

His deal was to provide kerosene at six shillings and threepence a gallon and light the lamps for the next four months at 14 shillings per week.

Yet more trouble - lamps were constantly being blown out.

In June 1867, the council removed all lamps in an effort to rectify their ventilation problems.

Eventually, Mr Frank Fleiner became lamp lighter and a glint of light could be seen on a few Albury street corners from 1870.

In May 1883, the council imposed a lighting levy of twopence in the pound on rate payers, resolving to light the lamps with gas.

This was amended to gas or kerosene, a situation which remained until 1916, when electricity was introduced.

In 1891, the council was paying £7/10 per gas lamp per annum, when they introduced a “powerful” 150 candlepower Sugg lamp at the intersection of Dean and Kiewa streets, costing six times more to run.

Light intensity is measured in lumens, 150 candlepower gives 1885 lumens, while a 150-watt incandescent lamp in comparison provides 2600 lumens.

Subsequently, Suggs were added to both Olive and Townsend street corners.

By 1906, there were 48 gas lamps; kerosene numbers were unknown.

Visit our website at www.alburyhistory.org.au/ Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at the Commercial Club Albury, commencing at 7.30pm