Yesterday we posted a picture of a lamplighter on our Facebook page, and it was just wonderful to see all your comments and stories about your memories of these forgotten community fixtures.
A couple of you (special mention to Yvonne Briddock!) quoted or mentioned the lovely poem The Lamplighter by Robert Louis Stevenson. I looked it up, and it's so pretty and evocative that I thought it deserved a re-post here:
My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;
It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.
Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do,
Oh Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!
For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight!
Robert Louis Stevenson
It's pretty nice set to music as well:
It seems that Stevenson shared your fondness for the lamplighters - he also wrote an essay titled “A Plea For Gas Lamps" (1881), championing the beauty of a flickering gas light over the brash glare of electric lamps, which were becoming more common.
Your memories of the lamplighters
"You prompted me to go looking for a poem from my past which I read at my primary school in Scotland. 'The Lamplighter' by Robert Louis Stevenson. Have a search for it, it's a lovely little verse. I hadn't seen it for well over 40 years so thanks for the reminder!" Yvonne Briddock
"We had one @ the bottom of Rhyl St, & we used it as a rope swing" Maureen White
"My great grandfather did this job which I found out from your website! Amazing!" Michelle Smith
"Loved when the leerie came up the brae lighting the lamps. This was magical, especially on a frosty night. He would then come up the close to light the landing lamps." Betty Hunter
"Loved when the leerie came up the brae lighting the lamps. This was magical, especially on a frosty night.
"One of my ancestors was Town Cryer and Lamplighter in the 1800s" Gaynor Kennedy
"Great as a swing, the finishing post for races, the post where you stood while your friends hid (hide and seek), and a signpost when we got lost during the smogs (our gate was 5 down from the lamp). Happy days." Pat Bain
"Loved these gas lamps - ours had two arms - double rope swings - ace" Sheila Lowe
Keep telling us your stories!
Those were just a few of your thoughts and memories about lamplighters posted to our Facebook page. Sorry we can't post everyone this time, there were just so many responses! If you don't see your comment below please don't be disheartened, we read and appreciate every single one. And do keep commenting, we're doing our best to keep up and show as many on the site as possible from now on!
Also, if you'd rather not be mentioned and you see your name below, just email us at testimonials@findmypast and we'll happily remove it as quickly as possible.
We also really love hearing your longer stories and personal memories, so please do keep sending them in to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your story merits a blog all to itself...