Davy Safety lamp

Made:
before 1815 in United Kingdom
maker:
Humphry Davy

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Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Safety lamp invented by Humphry Davy in 1815. One of the first two to be used in a coal mine. A gauze chimney over a brass lamp.

Davy invented the miner’s safety lamp on request from the Sunderland Society for Preventing Accidents in Coal Mines after a series of explosions in North-eastern mines. He discovered that explosive mixtures of firedamp (primarily methane) would not pass through small tubes or apertures. His safety lamp therefore had a wire-gauze chimney containing a flame. This allowed light out but prevented the flame igniting the firedamp found in mines, whcih caused explosions. Davy’s invention allowed deeper and less safe mines to be exploited, increasing coal production. His invention was simultaneous to almost identical work by George Stephenson, a mining engineer at Killingworth Colliery, leading to a heated priority dispute. Stephenson would go on to much greater fame as the ‘Father of the Railways’.

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Science Museum: Making the Modern World Gallery

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Details

Category:
Mining & Ore Dressing
Materials:
brass, gauze
Identifier:
1857-208/1
type:
miner's safety lamp
credit:
Geological Museum (Jermyn St.)

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