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British Industrial History

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Manchester and District Edison Electric Light Co

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Suppliers of electric lighting schemes, later known as Manchester Edison and Swan Co

c.1881 Business established[1]

1884 ' "KILLED BY ELECTRICITY." To the Editor of the Manchester Courier.
Sir, — The recent death of an electrician at the Health Exhibition, while oiling a dynamo machine, has doubtless caused alarm to some who think of adopting the electric light in their houses. The circumstances of the case have not been clearly given in any of the public papers. I think it right, therefore, that it should be stated that, in incandescent lighting, there is not the slightest danger, and little inconvenience, experienced from handling the naked terminals of a machine driving a circuit of Edison lamps; and as the resistance of the Edison lamp is higher than any other form of incandescent lamp, it follows that the inconvenienoe is still less when lamps of the Swan type are used. What I have said may be put to the test any evening by anyone who will visit this company's central station in Mount-street. Here the current for lighting the Theatre Royal is generated; and anyone who cares to do so may handle the terminals of the powerful dynamo machines employed without suffering more than a slightly uncomfortable feeling such as is usually experienced when receiving "shock" from an ordinary electrical machine. The reason of this is that incandescent lamps are generally run in what is called " multiple arc," by which means the tension employed remains the same, whether one lamp be used or a thousand. Arc lamps, on the contrary, are usually lighted "in series;" in other words, the current is forced through each in succession, and must necessarily have an electro-motive intensity capable of overcoming the combined resistances of the total number of lamps. As arc lamps usually need somewhat more than volts of electro-motive intensity for each ; and, as there were in this case, 25 arc lamps "in series," it follows that more than 1,000 volts were passing through the circuit. This, you will observe, is 10 times the force employed in incandescent lighting, and it is this difference between the two methods of producing the electric light which it is desirable to make clear to your readers. When large numbers of arc lamps are lighted "in series" there is always danger; and, the greater the number, the more the danger. But when incandescent lighting has been properly prepared for, a careful installation carried out competent persons, and with conducting wires of sufficient sectional area, there is no mode of producing artificial light once so pleasant and so free from danger, either to life or from fire. This last mentioned advantage has not yet been sufficiently recognised by the insurance offices; but with the increasing premiums now being demanded from Manchester warehouses, for covering fire risks, it cannot be long before the incandescent light will be included amongst those "safety appliances," for the adoption of which liberal discount from fire premiums is allowed. My object, however, is not at present to discuss this question. My purpose will have been served if I shall have removed any needless alarm on the subject of incandescent lighting.—
Yours, GEO. FREEMANTLE, Secretary.
The Manchester and District Edison Electric Light Company, Limited, 19, Victoria Buildings, Manchester.'[2]

1886 'MILL LIGHTING BY ELECTRICITY. - Messrs. Platts are making use of electricity at their Quarry-street Mills for lighting purposes. They recently intrusted the work of installation to the Manchester and District Edison Electric Light Co. Limited. The dynamo is of the Edison-Hopkinson type, and is capable of maintaining 400 sixteen-candle power incandescent lamps. It is driven from the main engine, and with the 320 lamps at present fitted absorbs about 36 horse power. The lamps are Swan's, and are provided with white porcelain shades. We understand that the workpeople have already experienced a very great difference, due to this improved lighting. In the first place, the temperature is from 15 to 20 degrees lower than previously, and there is an entire absence of carbonic acid and sulphur fumes, which are present to a serious degree in all such confined rooms lighted by gas. The light is much softer and purer to work by, and therefore does not affect the eyes as gas does. Greatly to improve the health of the mill, the executors of the late Mr. Robert Platt, acting in accordance with the wishes of Mrs. Platt, who is always ready to give consideration to the comfort and health of her employes, have carried out this electric lighting. We hear that the Manchester Edison Light Co., beyond other contracts for works and house lighting, have just arranged with Messrs. J. Rhodes and Son to fit up their Hadfield mills with about 1,500 incandescent lamps.'[3]

1887 Carried out the lighting scheme for parts of the buildings of the 1887 Manchester Jubilee Exhibition which involved use of 3000 incandescent lamps[4]

1887 'Electric Lighting in Mills. On Wednesday evening a number of Manchester gentlemen, invited by the Manchester and District Edison Electric Light Company Limited, visited Messrs. Rhodes and Sons' mill at Hadfield, and there inspected the most extensive installation of electrical plant in any private establishment in the country. This large mill is now lighted by over 1,400 incandescent lamps which supersede about 2000 gas jets. The light of each electric lamp is equal to 16-candle power. The mill is much better lighted than formerly, and, besides, the adoption of the new system is accompanied by all the other advantages of electric lighting, such as purity of atmosphere and general cleanliness. The installation is worked by a horizontal engine and two Edison-Hopkinson dynamos, specially designed by Messrs. Mather and Platt for the purpose. The engine is 170 horses' power, and the two dynamos are each capable of working 750 lamps. The wires are run through the building, enclosed in woodwork, and each of the lamps is provided with a porcelain reflector. There is an admirable arrangement of switches, which enables the workers to use any set of lamps they require. During the inspection of the mill, which contains 73,556 spindles and 1,300 looms, the visitors had an opportunity of comparing electric and gas light, and of noting the superiority of the former. Before the company departed Mr. William Rhodes expressed himself extremely satisfied with the result of the installation of the electric light, which was, in the opinion of the firm, the best light possible. They had less sickness than formerly, and they attribute it to the very pure atmosphere they had in the weaving sheds now. There was neither sulphur nor smell; nothing, in fact, to injure the health of the most delicate person. Mr. H. Rhodes expressed similar views on the advantages of electric lighting. During the visit the party were taken over the entire premises, under the guidance of Mr. G. Freemantle, secretary, and Mr. J. R. Williamson, manager, of the Edison Electric Light Company.'[5]

1887 The name of the Manchester and District Edison Electric Light Co Ltd was changed to Manchester Edison and Swan Co Ltd.[6]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1887/05/06
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 6 October 1884
  3. Cotton Factory Times, 6 August 1886
  4. The Engineer 1887/05/06
  5. Cotton Factory Times - Friday 21 January 1887
  6. The London Gazette 16 December 1887