Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Occupation: Lamplighter

A lamplighter, historically, was an employee of a town who lit street lights, generally by means of a wick on a long pole. At dawn, they would return and turn them off using a small hook on the same pole. Early street lights were generally candles, oil, and similar consumable liquid or solid lighting sources with wicks. Part of the lamplighter's duty was to carry a ladder and renew the candles, oil, or gas mantles.

In some communities, lamplighters served in a role akin to a town watchman; in others, it may have been seen as simply a position that involves little or no responsibility.

In the 19th century, gas lights became the dominant form of street lighting. The early gaslights required lamplighters until systems were developed which allowed the lights to operate automatically.

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