In the 18th century London was a dark city. When the sun set, the streets were turned black and dangerous. Servants were hired to carry a lamp and a cudgel (a short stick used as a weapon) by people who wanted to venture outside after dark. Those who could not afford to keep servants would pay a few coins to a ‘link boy’ or street urchins and who would walk ahead, carrying a stick with a rag dipped in tar and set alight. Some would lead their customers into courts and alleyways and stealing what they could in the darkness. Those who couldn’t afford to be guided in the dark took their chances – or rushed home before sunset.
Then, in 1807, to celebrate the birthday of King George III, Frederick Windsor, an engineer, lit the most spectacular of candles. To gasping crowds, he instantly illuminated a line of gas lamps. Each one was fed with gas pipes made from the barrels of old musket guns and all Winsor had to do was apply a single spark to light up the whole street.
Over the following decades, thousands of gas lamps went up across London. Many panicked about the new-fangled technology – explosions were alarmingly common in the early days – but for the first time in its history, London was safe, relatively speaking, to walk at night. The Victorian periodical The Westminister review wrote that the introduction of gas lamps had done more to eliminate immorality and criminality on the streets than any number of church sermons.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of electric street lamps in London. There are only 14,500 gas lamps remaining. In those early days there were 412 lamplighters throughout the city to light the thousands of lamps. Today there are only 5 left. It is thanks to them that this remarkable part of the city’s history has endured and that in a few squares and parks and alleyways, it is still possible to walk the glowing streets.
As I was reading about the gas lamps and the lamplighters in London, it was interesting to read that these lights (lamps) helped reduce crime in the city and help bring some peace to people when out in the dark world. I was reminded of a verse in Pslam 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” We can also look to the light to the light of God to help us when we are lost, stuck or simply overwhelmed. In the same way God wants us to be lighting the way for people in darkness. We too can change our community by being a light for God.
Be a Lamplighter!
This April 13 – 16, 2017, Dave Roever is inviting you to be a part of a motorcycle ride in South Texas. This is Easter weekend and he is inviting you all to ride with us, you can come in Thursday April 13, 2017 and ride with us Friday and have set in on some excellent teaching and more on Saturday Morning, and those that want to be home for Easter you can leave at noon Saturday and for those that stay and ride to church with Dave Sunday morning you may do so and we will go on a ride then as well. After church Sunday we will ride to lunch with Dave and the pastor plus other’s from his church and after lunch depart for our individual homes. If you are interested you can call me on my cell, my office direct line 817-616-1869 or send me an E-mail at Harrellcwby1948@aol.com.