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Better Light Than Never


I fumbled out of bed, flicked on the bedside light, then the landing light, then the bathroom light before quickly turning on our little supplementary heater as our heating does not start until 6.30am. Well it was one of the coldest mornings so far this year! And it occurred to me how all of this convenience, often taken for granted, didn’t exist just 20 years before I was born. My parents never experienced heat and light on demand to the same level that we do now. None of the facilities I was using, including the lights, were available in the farmhouse where I was born.

The electricity was paramount in improving the convenience of living in those days and I remember my mother Ivy telling me what a transformation that was. Of course it didn’t arrive over night and our first electricity connection was to an outside building, not the house. This later became known as the electric light house and it was where we stored pitchforks, scythes, spades, shovels and many other tools which were used on the farm every day. It was also the home of all the Tilley lamps which were vitally important in the winter months for working on the farm. These lamps had to be cleaned, filled with oil and the wicks trimmed properly before being used anywhere in the buildings where the cows, pigs and many other animals lived in the winter. All of these tasks had to be done before light was produced to do anything successfully after dark.

Then came the first electricity connection! Over the next few years this invisible power force transformed life on the farm and of course everywhere else. Large batteries the size of a small loaf of bread, attached to a covered bulb were charged each day and then carried to the place of work including mother’s Cheese dairy. Their lives were changing very rapidly, gone were the lamps and candles which were used everywhere including the farmhouse and outside toilet!

Of course the even larger improvement came when, several years later it was possible to run the electricity supply around the farm and lastly the Farmhouse. It was always a slight bone of contention between Mother and Father as to why the Farmhouse was always last in line!

As we all know, as soon as electrical supply became available in buildings, countless machines and gadgets to arguably “improve “ our lives quickly followed. A few years later when my brother Jim was ten years old, three years before I was born, another transformative machine arrived on the farm; our very first Tractor! But that’s a story for another day. In the meantime stay safe in these turbulent times.



February 2023


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