Belfast: 'Evolution of Lighting: Ireland'. Gas Works, mechanical stoker and drawer

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Where: Unknown

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When: 01 January 1900

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Advances in science and technology to start this week with public lighting evolving in Belfast. After the eons during which lighting was by candle or taper moving over to gas lighting must have seemed to be a revolutionary advance?

Whether an incremental or exponential advance, this mechanical stoker device must have allowed a LOT more coke and coal to be fed and maintained in these numerous furnaces. While it must've put at least a few chaps out of work, one imagines their lungs (and backs) were better off at least......

Collection: Mason Photographic Collection

Date: Catalogue range c.1890-1910

NLI Ref: M8/8

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 16040
thomasholmesmason thomasmayne thomashmasonsonslimited lanternslides nationallibraryofireland lighting belfast ulster automated gasworks coalfired mechanicalstoker stoker mechanisation automation industrialautomation

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    Niall McAuley

    • 01/Apr/2019 08:05:25

    Gas lighting was not new in 1900, electricity was already replacing it.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 01/Apr/2019 08:08:21

    The innovation here is a machine which stokes the boiler instead of having men with shovels do it.

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    abandoned railways

    • 01/Apr/2019 08:13:08

    Belfast Gasworks was built on Ormeau Road, between 1887 and 1893.

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    • 01/Apr/2019 09:35:29

    Robots taking jobs in 1900 - the headlines do not change!!

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    Niall McAuley

    • 01/Apr/2019 09:49:44

    Wikipedia article on the Mechanical Stoker

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    • 01/Apr/2019 10:06:37

    There were gas lamps in the street where I lived off the Antrim Road in Belfast in the early 50s. I remember the lamplighter coming each evening.

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    • 01/Apr/2019 10:14:16

    West's Compressed air charging machine - (in Gas Manufacture Chemistry by Butterfield 1896): This replaced manual charging (below):

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    • 01/Apr/2019 12:19:58

    This was a coal gasification process. Any word on carburetted water gas?

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    • 01/Apr/2019 19:27:27

    Wonderful image

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    • 01/Apr/2019 23:48:31

    I was going to say it's not natural gas, it's made from coal.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 01/Apr/2019 23:55:28

    Thanks [], [], [], and everyone else! I somehow hadn't really married the words "mechanical" and "stoker" to understand what a useful and essential piece of kit this must have been. I've updated the description. But not the map. Do we think we could map it to the mighty gasworks on the Ormeau Road?

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    Dr. Ilia

    • 03/Apr/2019 08:00:05

    Excellent composition!