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.
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.
We are delighted that John Halligan, Minister of State in the Irish Government, visited our exhibition at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester on Sunday.
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).
Electric Generations: The Story of Electricity in the Irish Home will be at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester in spring 2018.
About Irish World Heritage Centre
The Irish World Heritage Centre is a modern and accessible conference and events venue based in Manchester and is a major hub for the Irish community in the northwest of England with a diverse programme of traditional cultural activities covering Irish music, dance and Irish language groups.
The aim and objective is to advance the education of the wider community on all aspects of Irish culture and heritage, and the positive contribution of Irish emigrants worldwide.
This is achieved through the promotion and development of Irish arts, history and cultural heritage at the Irish World Heritage Centre, and by working in partnership with other Irish organisations and community groups.
Location & Directions
1 Irish Town Way,
The Irish World Heritage Centre is located just off Queens Road, Cheetham Hill.
Free car parking on site.
For those traveling by Manchester Metrolink, the Centre is one stop out of town on the Bury Line (Queens Road Tram stop).