Lighting up Inverell's history

History in action: Power poles being erected in the streets of Inverell.

History in action: Power poles being erected in the streets of Inverell.

When the town of Inverell became incorporated in 1872, the streets were lit by just a few kerosene lamps. Each night they were lit by a lamp lighter riding a horse and carrying a ladder and taper. At midnight, he did the rounds again to douse the lights.

During the mid-1880s, council discussed a proposal to purchase 12 street lamps. Despite concerns about uneven and often muddy streets and footbaths which were dangerous at night, the council decided that as there were no funds available, lighting was “an unnecessary expense”.

Each night they were lit by a lamp lighter riding a horse and carrying a ladder and taper.

Over many years, several council aldermen pushed for improvement to street lighting however proposals were declined as finance continued to restrict progress.

Larrikins were blamed for extinguishing and damaging street lamps in 1899. At this time, the lamp lighter also reported that kerosene was being taken from the lamps.

Eventually during 1901, Mr Ferguson, a tinsmith, finished a large order of street lamps for the council.  Perhaps the ones on display at the Pioneer Village are from this order?

Two years later, council deliberated over the best type of lamp to purchase. Lights were needed near the railway bridge and in the market square (Victoria Park). They decided to order one “Best” 1000 candle-power vapour lamp as a trial.

Eventually some of these lamps, on ornate bases, were installed around the town.

By 1909, council had established a special committee to investigate the costs and benefits of setting up an electricity or gas supply for the town.  A comprehensive report was published in the Inverell Times on Friday, August 13, 1909 with a summary of both schemes.

Although the committee findings showed that electricity was cheaper than gas and more effective, council held a referendum at which 189 people voted in favour of electricity; 86 voted against and 11 were undecided.

The council applied for a loan of 8700 pounds ($17,400), the power station in Campbell Street was built and street lighting upgraded and extended.

During 1916, the lights in the business centre of town were German-made 800 candle power carbon.

As they became unprocurable due to the war, English 1000-candle power metal filament lights were installed. Humble beginnings for today’s modern and extensive town lighting.

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