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Article & photographs by Paul Wright, 2019
Lighting at Wymington

In Church Lane
Old and New Lighting

Wymington residents are now benefitting from having the latest LED lighting technology installed in the village during 2019. The benefits of the LED lamps (light emitting diode) over the traditional incandescent and fluorescent ones are that they are very much more efficient.

It's probably something that we take for granted in these modern times, but going back to the late 1800's in the village, things were very ground breaking indeed! And the streets of Wymington were about to be illuminated by oil lamps, and a special meeting of the parochial electors was called on October 25th 1895 to discuss the subject.

Mr. T. Dickerson moved the following resolution, viz. that the provisions of the Lighting and Watching Act of 1833 be adopted for the Parish of Wymington. That act was adopted by some fifteen votes, and the oil lighting was then installed. A dozen lamp standards were erected and the lamps were lit for the first time on November 12th,1895. This act gave the Council the powers to fix lamp brackets to private houses,and they did so in several cases. But one such owner was threatened with prosecution for repeatedly removing the bracket from his cottage.

People were then needed for the task of lighting the lamps of course, and tenders were invited for the office of "lamplighter and caretaker, and a couple of men said they were interested in this new role.

The first application was from Mr Alfred Dickerson,he offered to do it for 4/9d per week. But he was undercut by a penny per week by Mr Walter Wooding, who came in at 4/8d per week. So Walter was appointed to the post with the remuneration stated in his application.This was unanimously resolved that he be instructed to put out the lights at 9.30 each night with the exception of a Saturday, when they should remain alight for an extra half an hour until 10 o'clock.

A change came about at the next meeting to make it 10 o'clock each week night and 9 o'clock on Sundays.
The lamps in use from October to April, when the lamplighter was paid an extra 5/6d to take down, clean and store them in the hut in Church Lane.The oil that was stored there; costing 6d a gallon back in 1895.The hut and its contents were then insured for the princely sum of £50.

By 1900 the lamplighter wages had risen to 1/1d each night, with extra pay for the two lamps erected on the new estate of Little Wymington, this was to be just over 3d per night. This we called "Old Wymington",as opposed to New Wymington being the houses at the top of what my late father Jack Wright called "Drews Hill"; this is where the former Old Rectory now stands. The hill took its local name after the vicar Mr Charles Edward Drew, who was in service at St Lawrence church from 1892-1913.

Rushden Road
One of the first upgrades on Drews hill

Rev Fluellen with Terry Lewis, Mable Dickerson, Glynis Jones who's mother was the headmistress of Wymington school, Grace Wright - my late mother, and Mick Hadley.
One of the last vicars to live at the old rectory was Reverend William Henry Fluellen, priest in charge from 1944-1973, and the final one was John Furness. He then moved into the new vicarage at the bottom of Manor Lane; this was built by Dee-Jak the builders. Rev Fluellen sadly passed away in a Hampshire nursing home, but is buried in Wymington church yard with a marked headstone. (right: a black and white shot of him holidaying in Switzerland with some parishioners circa the early 1960's).

By 1910, the Gas Company agreed to supply the village with gas, and by August the streets were lit by town gas, costing 2/10d per cubic foot.

Luckily for Wymington, the council in nearby Riseley said that they would like to avail themselves of the redundant oil lamps, which Wymington had been using for over a dozen years, so nothing went to waste, and Wymington did some early recycling!

The Gas Company was now employing the lamplighter at a wage of 10 shillings a week (yes, '10 bob' in old money). He lit, extinguished, and cleaned the lamps and maintained the standards. There was a curious clause in the Gas Company contract though?

The lamps were to be lighted for nine nights short of each month which time should be regulated by the rising of the moon, and that the lamps should not be lit for the said nine nights commencing when the moon was seven days old.

Over the years there were just three occasions when the village was without its street lighting. It was off throughout both world wars and during the coal strike of 1920. 

Lighting was also restricted during the coal strike of 1926. In that strike the miners were out for several months before being forced, by their own economic needs, to return to the mines. By the end of that November, most miners were back at work. There was a downside though, and many remained unemployed for several years.
Those that were employed were forced to accept even longer hours, lower wages and district wage agreements.

When I was growing up in South Grove during the early 1950's I do remember a gas lamp at the bottom of the Grove. This was standing outside of what was the shop, which was owned by the Faulkes family; they sold it to the good old Co-op. It remained there until about the 1970's and then closed. The former site is now a small development called "The Brambles".

The mobile shop and customers
The Co-op Mobile Shop
As a bonus there was a Co-op mobile shop in its traditional red livery that used to come to the village on a Friday morning. I seem to recall the driver's name was Mr Bill Horsley? Customers could walk into the rear of the vehicle and take delivery of stuff that you had ordered, or just buy something on the spot of course.

So home delivery is by no means a new thing, and we were well served by Garrett's the butchers from Bozeat, and they came on a Friday evening, and a Mr Tebbutt used to sell fruit and veg door to door from his old blue Ford van mainly on a Saturday afternoon.

The last Co-op Bread basket.

This was saved when the last electric bread and milk floats were sold off in about 1968. Northern Dairies took over the milk rounds.
Several Rushden bakers came to the village to supply their home baked delights, and the men used to carry a large whicker basket full of crusty loaves etc to your door.

Who could forget the early morning pint of milk delivered by Keith Abbott on his horse and cart from Manor Farm in the village, or by the electric milk float by Ray Parker for the Co-op, or maybe local chap Graham Barnes for what was then Northern Dairies?

Getting back to the electric lights of my youth, these were a vast improvement over the old town gas system, and the lights were on a manual timer clock that had to be adjusted twice a year to accommodate Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and for the summer months British Summer Time (BST). This adjustment meant that an employee of the then East Midlands Electricity used to erect his ladder against the wooden pole and manually adjust the time clock that would turn the lights on and off at certain time's of the day or night.

site of the old Co-op old lamp head
Site of the old Co-op Shop
An old Lamp Head

This chap lived in the village up at South Grove, and his name was Mr Pettit: he would also fit new bulbs to the failed units of course.

At that time there was a single company for your electricity or gas supply, and prices tended not to fluctuate as they did after privatisation in 1990.

The current Wymington council members in 2019 are Mr Adrian Short, Mr S. Moore, Mrs L. Jaquest, Mr J.Warner, Mr R. Major, Mr J.Wilson and Mr M. Sugars.

So over a period of 125 years, Wymington has moved from having street lighting that had been oil powered, to the state of the art LED lamps that came on stream during the spring of 2019.

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