Miners' Safety Lamps Bicentenary

2015 was the Bicentenary of the Invention of the Miners' Safety Lamp in 1815

Several events took place, public meetings and lectures, articles, etc:

2 October 2014 – Evening Lecture Sir Humphry Davy: Natural philosopher, discoverer, inventor, poet, man of action by Sir John Meuring Thomas Lecture at the Royal Society of Chemistry. Lecture available here

February 2015 - Article The man from Penzance – Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) by Ledetta Asfa-Wossen Materials World v. 23 no. 2 February 2015 p. 42-45

5 March 2015 - Public Meeting The Adoption of the miners safety lamp - John Buddle's role in the transfer of lamp technology organised by the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (NEIMME)

8 June 2015 – Lecture  Safety at Sea and Lighthouses by Professor Frank James lecture organised by Gresham College and held at the Museum of London – Lecture and video here

22 July 2015 - Article Humphry Davy and the “safety lamp controversy” by Andrew Lacey in The Guardian

12 October 2015 – 24 January 2016 - Special exhibition: A Light in the Darkness – 200 Years of the Flame, Safety Lamp at the National Coal Mining Museum

25 October 2015 - A Light in the Darkness Event: The Lamp Collectors Society’s Little Meet - 10am – 4pm, free drop in,  Ask the Expert session and Book Launch of a new book by the Society at the National Coal Mining Museum

Book launch - Clanny, Stephenson & Davy - Commemorating the Bicentenary of the Miners Safety Lamps, published by The Lamp Collectors Society, 372 pages with full colour illustrations of over 425 early lamps. Cost £89.99. You may purchase this title from David Rimmer T: 07795 380609.

27 November 2015 - The Royal Institution Science Lives Here - Friday Evening Discourse: The Tsar's Cup by Frank James, Professor of the History of Science and Head of Collections at 7pm at the Royal Institution

5 Decembter 2015 - Family Open Davy Celebrating - George Stephenson at The Lit and Phil, Newcastle upon Tyne.

At 6 pm - Science and Mining in the North East: George Stephenson, Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, with Frank A.L. James, Professor of of the History of Science.

This talk will compare the ‘engineering’ solution pursued by George Stephenson and the ‘scientific’ one followed by Humphry Davy, assisted by Michael Faraday. The simultaneity of these discoveries provoked a ferocious controversy between the main protagonists. The arguments were informed not only by the merits and precise chronologies of development, but also by business, class, political and regional rivalries.

2 February 2016 - Lunch Hour Lectures - The State, Science and Humphry Davy, Lecture by Frank A.L.James, Professor of the History of Science. Event held at Darwin Lecture Theatre from 1:15-1:55 pm at University Collegue London

You may wish to watch the video here

18 February 2016 - Evening Lecture - The History of the Davy Lamp, by Brian Robinson. Jointly organised by MinSouth and the British Tunnelling Society, held that Institution of Civil Engineers, 18:00. Contact Paul Griffin.

10 January 2017 - Evening Lecture - Letters, laughing gas and the lamp: Humphry Davy 1778 - 1829, talk by Sharon Ruston, who will discuss a hitherto unpublished collection of letters written to the Rev John Hodgson who has an important role in the invention of the safety lamp. They shed new light on the ensuing controversy over who first created a safe lamp. Event will be held at the Royal Institution, Tuesday 10th January 2017 7.00 - 8.30 pm. Further information here.

Free Online Course

November 2017

Humphry Davy: Laughing Gas, Literature, and the Lamp: Discover Humphry Davy and his contribution to science and the arts.

October 2018

Humphry Davy: Laughing Gas, Literature, and the Lamp

starting 29 October 2018 - Open to all


Lancaster University awarded a Research Council Leadership Fellowship to edit two volumes of 'The Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy'. See also Davy Letters website.

Royal Society of Chemistry presented a plaque to honour Humphry Davy in Penzance.

Institution of Mechanical Engineers Archive and Library blog on The Geordie Lamp

National Coal Mining Museum - Celebrating 200 Years of the Flame Safety Lamp with some films.

Articles available in the Library of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining:

James F. - A Tale of two lamps in Materials World November 2015 v. 23 no. 11 p. 52-54

Asfa-Wossen L. - The man from Penzance - Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) in Materials World February 2015 no. 2 p. 42-45

Hadwick F.W., O'Shea L.T. - Notes on the history of the safety-lamp in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers 1915-1916 v. LI p. 548-728

Briggs H - A method for the rapid estimation of oxygen and blackdamp in the air of safety-lamp mines in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers 1915-1916 v. LI p. 169-188

Hirsch H.H., - The Hirsch portable electric lamp in Transactions of the Institute of Mining Engineers 1915-1916 v LI p. 61-71


RI Royal Institution Video - Fighting Firedamp - the Lamp that saved 1,000 lives on YouTube

BBC One - The One Show - Marty Jopson - Davy Lamp