Tag Archives: Electric Generations

Exhibiting Electricity in Manchester

By Ceri Houlbrook , University of Hertfordshire

With the Electric Generations exhibition now open at the Irish World Heritage Centre, we wanted to consider Manchester’s role in bringing electricity to people’s homes. It’s no surprise that this industrial powerhouse of a city embraced technological developments – and hosted a number of large-scale exhibitions showcasing them.

In 1887 they held the four-month Royal Jubilee Exhibition, opened by the Prince of Wales and admitting over four million visitors. Many newly developed electrical devices were on display. The building was lit by arc and incandescent lighting, installed by the Anglo-American Electric Light and the Manchester Edison Swan companies. An installation by Mather and Platt of Manchester included generators (pictured below), used to power a printing machine and electrical singeing machine, and various other electrical miscellany were on display: electric bells, electric cigar lighters, even a miniature electric bath ‘for medical purposes’. And a lot of attention was given to the telephone, with visitors being invited to use public telephones, managed by operators, to send over 100,000 messages to towns in Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

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Prof Owen Davies introduces our 1930s vacuum cleaner

Professor Owen Davies of the Exhibition Team introduces the 1930s vacuum cleaner that will be on display as part of the exhibition at dlr LexIcon.

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Exhibition Taster: Morphy Richards Hairdryer Ensemble

When the Electric Generations exhibition opens, we’ll have a number of electrical items on display that we’ve collected or borrowed from various places.  This 1960s Morphy Richards ensemble hairdryer is a taster of the type of objects that visitors will be able to see.  Tracked down on eBay, it’s still in full working order — although we haven’t been brave enough to actually try it ourselves and it’s probably best that you don’t test it out at the exhibition, either! Read more

Exhibition Taster: Digital Copy of Electrical Housekeeping

Burnley Express, 7 April 1934

We will have hard and digital copies of the periodical Electrical Housekeeping on display at our exhibition, but in the meantime why not browse our digital copy below from summer 1939?! Check back every second Monday for a new taster in the lead up to the opening of the Electric Generations exhibition.

Burnley Express, 7 April 1934

Burnley Express, 7 April 1934

Electrical Housekeeping (mentioned in the advertisement to the left) was a promotional periodical launched by the British Electrical Development Association (EDA) in 1933 as ‘the first home electrical magazine’. The EDA was founded in 1919 to promote the consumption of electricity and electrical appliances, and ‘produce advertising material of common value to bodies within the industry’. It was funded at first by appliance manufacturers and later by the Central Electricity Board. Production of the magazine was suspended during the Second World War, and then started up again as a free publication in 1950 under the editorship of G.A. Thompson. It was now distributed via the showrooms of the Regional Electricity Boards, which were created as part of the nationalisation of the electricity supply industry in 1948.[1]

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