Safety lamp history…

Over 20cm in height with a heavy base made of brass is the iconic miners safety lamp.

908 - stamped into the base

908 - stamped into the base

Stamped with the number 908 the base fuel compartment the history of this lamp is not known.

It is thought that this model of lamp was made in the north east of England and is thought to be quite an early model.  This assumption is made due to it having only 4 metal pillars surrounding the looking glass. Later models have five risers due to requirements to improve safety.

The miners safety lamp was used, and is still used in some underground activities, to illuminate an area deep underground.

It was Sir Humphry Davy who discovered that if you shield a naked flame with a thin metal gauze it will not ignite explosive gasses such as methane found in deep mines.

Safety lamp - about 20cm tall

Safety lamp - about 20cm tall

The lamp also provided a crude test for the presence of gases.

If flammable gas mixtures were present, the flame of the Davy lamp burned higher with a blue tinge.

Miners lamps were made of brass so if they knocked against metal or rocks they would not cause any sparks.

It was and possibly still is, an offence to relight a miners lamp such as this underground.

Miners could also place a safety lamp close to the ground to detect gases, such as carbon dioxide, that are denser than air and so could collect in depressions in the mine; if the mine air was oxygen-poor, the lamp flame would be extinguished.

Was this your lamp and where was it used?

Can you add to the history of this lamp, and how does it open?

Here are some of the identifying marks.

  • H. Oakland is stamped onto a plate at the top off the lamp.
  • The number 908 is stamped onto the base
  • The words ‘Wolf Safety Lamp’ are stamped into the edge of the base
  • Pattersons is stamped onto the top rim of the base


Wed 5th August 2009

Lee Simmons has been in touch via the contact us form and sent us a picture of a safety lamp with blue glass.

Miners Lamp with blue glass

Miners Lamp with blue glass

He says that he can only confirm that his father found it some 35 yrs ago in a skip.

Does anyone know anything about the history of a lamp such as this and where it may have been used?


Sat 24 October 2009

Pete has been in touch he says…

All Ackrord & Best lamps were made before 1927, after that the company became known as Hailwood & Ackroyd and badges on lamps changed to this,

The lamps with blue glasses were sold for 3/6d to mark gas leaks uxb’s etc during WW2.

It was found that a dim blue glass cannot be spotted from 2000ft by German bombers.

Over 100,000 were altered and made available.

I have a copy of the advertisment.

The building is still there in Morley nr Leeds, now owned by Wabco, makers of automotive parts.

Hope this helps, Pete.

UPDATE – April 2011

Can you please give me some information on miner davy lamp as i have got my granfathers after my father past away the lamp is 23cm tall the top is stamped 721 brass on silver top base is brass stamped ehc 683 74/r with a small wike in the middle is it parafin lamp or oil and if so can you tell me which coal pit it came from.

mark ridley

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