Stephenson’s work on the lamp

In 1815, Stephenson was working at Killingworth Colliery, in the north-east of England.

He spent some of his time experimenting on gases that were found in the mine, including fire-damp (the explosive gas that had killed many miners). Unlike Davy, though, Stephenson did not have a laboratory, nor did he have the latest scientific equipment. His experiments were very basic.

On 21 October 1815, Stephenson tested a safety lamp he had designed in the mine at Killingworth Colliery. It did not cause an explosion, but it did not light up the mine very well.

On 4 November 1815, Stephenson tested an improved version of his safety lamp in the mine at Killingworth Colliery. This safety lamp worked better than the earlier version, but Stephenson still thought his safety lamp could be improved further.

On 30 November 1815, Stephenson tested a third safety lamp in the mine at Killingworth Colliery. Here is a picture of it:

The safety lamp is on the left, and the cover to protect the lamp from being knocked and broken is on the right. When the cover is fitted, the light comes out of the holes.

Some miners chose to use Stephenson’s safety lamp instead of Davy’s. Some mine owners were grateful to Stephenson for inventing his safety lamp. They gave Stephenson a present: a silver tankard (a type of cup). £1000 was donated by the mine owners to buy Stephenson’s present. They bought the tankard with this money, and also gave Stephenson the money that was left over.

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