Archive for the ‘Co Armagh’ Category

Victorian high-tech

January 26, 2011

The Staircase hall at The Argory, with its Regency Argand oil chandelier later converted to gas. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The National Trust guidebooks editors have just published a downloadable guide to the historic lighting at The Argory, Co Armagh. It was written by Maureen Dillon, the NT’s adviser on historic lighting, and curator Frances Bailey.

The Drawing Room, with an early-twentieth-century neo-Regency gas chandelier. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Argory has a rare collection of Victorian and Edwardian light fittings. They date from when the house was built by Walter McGeough Bond in the 1820s and from a modernisation in about 1900.

The acetylene gas plant at The Argory. ©NTPL/W.Anderson-Porter

In 1906 a small acetylene gas plant was installed in a special building near the house in order to provide up-to-date lighting. Acetylene gas is released by exposing calcium carbide to water. 

The Dining Room, with a gasolier in the Arts and Crafts style. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

This kind of gas provision was considered ideal for country houses, as it was cheap and needed little maintenace. Gas lighting was in use at The Argory until 1983.

Table lamp plugged into the acetylene gas supply. ©NTPL/W.Anderson-Porter

The acetylene-powered light fittings included table lamps, with a tube supplying the gas from a pipe in the wall, reminiscent of a modern-day electric socket.

Captain Shelton's Bedroom, showing at left a 'Surprise' pendant gas light, which was invented in 1893 and could be rotated both horizontally and vertically. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

When the house was first built in the 1820s lighting was provided by Argand oil lamps. Many of the original light fittings were later converted to gas.