Author Archives: Electric Generations Team

Pifco: A Manchester institution that shaped our Electric Generations

By Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire

The Provincial Incandescent Fittings Company — better known as Pifco — was established in Manchester by Joseph Webber (1876-1955) to sell lighting appliances and accessories. He was born in Brzostek, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in Poland, and came to London with his family in the 1880s. He worked as a hawker, and then as sole agent for the American Electric Co., as well as being an importer of gas mantles.

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Now open at Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester

Electric Generations has crossed the Irish Sea. It travelled from Dublin, via the University of Hertfordshire, to Manchester, where it was launched on 8 March at the Irish World Heritage Centre as part of the Manchester Irish Festival. The exhibition has adapted to its new location, with a display of electrical items manufactured by Manchester company Pifco, from a trouser presser to Aladdin’s lamp, and we’re eager to delve further into the history of this brand (a blog post will follow).

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“She is Full of Electricity”: Fear and electrification

By Ceri Houlbrook, University of Hertfordshire

People fear what they don’t understand. But what you don’t understand is often determined by the period you live in, and so for every generation this may well be something different.

Accessing the fears and anxieties of people living in the past is no easy feat. There are very few historical sources that can give us direct insight into the types of things that worried, daunted, and frightened people. Hospital records are one of those few. And so, to gain some understanding of what people feared a century ago, I delved into the case-books of Lancaster Moor Hospital (pictured above), currently held in the Lancashire Archives.

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Visit Electric Generations at the University of Hertfordshire from 19 January until 30 March 2018.

The exhibition is on display on the first floor of the R Block on the de Havilland Campus (AL10 9EU). Click here for a map of the campus.


Fear, functionality and freedom: Science Week 2017 talks

The Electric Generations team organised an evening of talks as part of Science Week 2017 at dlr LexIcon. On 15 November, short presentations were made by Deirdre McParland (ESB Archives), Prof Owen Davies (University of Hertfordshire), Dr Ciara Meehan (University of Hertfordshire) and Lorna Sixsmith (author, How to be a Perfect Farm Wife). They covered ESB advertising, magic and the supernatural, housewives and electrical appliances, and electricity on the farm.

The evening was introduced by Marian Keyes, senior librarian, and chaired by Ciara Meehan. We are grateful to dlr LexIcon for podcasting the talks.

Earlier in the day, there were two screenings of Death of the Banshee (1996), courtesy of ESB, in the Studio Theatre.


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