This photograph shows the reverse side of a ceramic light switch found during the rewiring of an old Yarm house. The patent is shown as being granted in 1842, which leads me to wonder when electricity came to the town?
Photograph and details courtesy of Anthony Bonner.
I have no idea when electricity came to Yarm though remember our own house being electrified. We were all gas lighting although with a posh light in the living room with three mantles and cut glass shades, 1932-33 a lot of activity in the house then one day as I came down stairs a man told me to put my finger on a big brass switch and push it down, the passage and stair light lit up, pure magic to a four year old. One light in each room connected by wires that ran in a wooden conduit, nothing was sunk into walls and it all went to a Penny in the slot meter in our pantry, next to the gas meter, that was at 5 Mill Lane Norton. That wiring looking back must have been lethal, many years later as i ran extensions to plug sockets for various uses we still used those pot backs with brass domes and metal switches. i watched Dad fit a socket for the Cosser Radio and we could get Luxembourg on Sunday mornings, we are the Ovaltinies a big favourite with all the kids.
The thing was we still preferred the gas light in the main room, it was far brighter to read by gave off a lovely calming hiss and warmed the room even though we had the large cast iron fire place with its water boilers two ovens and many gadgets for cooking over the fire.
My guess and it is a guess those electrical components first found a use in Industrial areas, then the posh houses and in time coming to the more lowly. I remember going into houses during the war that only had gas light. What people take as normal these days would be the new future to us old enough to remember those times.
1842 cannot be the date for at least two reasons. The patent 342082 dates from about 1930 https://tinyurl.com/y7pfefj4
I think you will find that the patent applies to something other than electrical use. For some generally interesting facts check out this site: http://englandsnortheast.co.uk/electric1870s.html
Rather than it being a light switch, it’s a 2 pin plug that had no earth. When I moved into my house which is Victorian it had these plugs. Good information on it though.
Sometimes these switches had a brass faceplate that was held in place by a knurled brass circular nut around the switch dolly, and when sunk into the wall the patress box was made out of very thin wood.
On Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe in 1965 my in-laws house had a light in the bathroom that whenever hot water was run the light came on. Outer sheath of lead on cloth insulated twin core inner cable resting on pipe that got hot shorted out.