The great switch on – lighting up SJC!
The summer of 1912 was momentous in College history – why, you ask? It was during the long summer holidays that student rooms were finally wired for electric light.
Electric lighting was made possible by the invention of the incandescent light bulb around 1880 by Joseph Swan in Britain and Thomas Edison in the USA. It soon became a popular and fashionable means of providing artificial light. In 1881, Godalming, Surrey, became the first town in Britain to have electric street lights.
In 1892, Council agreed to wire the Hall, Chapel and Undergraduates’ Reading Room for light and in 1908 R.F. Scott had the Master’s Lodge wired.
An anonymous article printed in the Eagle for 1911-1912 provides readers with the details of the installation of electric lighting in College. It’s interesting to note that although the College covered the cost of wiring Fellows’ rooms, it was up to the individual Fellows to pay for the fixtures.
To read the article click here: https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Eagle/Eagle%20Volumes/1910s/1912/Eagle_1911_Michaelmas.pdf and scroll to page 25 in the volume.
More archive material related to the lighting of the Chapel, Hall and College rooms is featured below.