Davy lamp


It was created for use in coal mines, to reduce the danger of explosions due to the presence of methane and other flammable gases, called firedamp or minedamp. == History == Davy's invention was preceded by that of William Reid Clanny, an Irish doctor at Bishopwearmouth, who had read a paper to the Royal Society in May 1813.


The Davy lamp is a safety lamp for use in flammable atmospheres, invented in 1815 by Sir Humphry Davy.

A letter from Davy (which he intended to be kept private) describing his findings and various suggestions for a safety lamp was made public at a meeting in Newcastle on 3 November 1815, and a paper describing the lamp was formally presented at a Royal Society meeting in London on 9 November.


A month before Davy presented his design to the Royal Society, Stephenson demonstrated his own lamp to two witnesses by taking it down Killingworth Colliery and holding it in front of a fissure from which firedamp was issuing. The first trial of a Davy lamp with a wire sieve was at Hebburn Colliery on 9 January 1816.

A methane-air flame is extinguished at about 17% oxygen content (which will still support life), so the lamp gave an early indication of an unhealthy atmosphere, allowing the miners to get out before they died of asphyxiation. == Impact == In 1816, the Cumberland Pacquet reported a demonstration of the Davy lamp at William Pit, Whitehaven.


The coroner noted that a previous firedamp explosion in 1821 had killed 52, but directed his jury that any finding on the wisdom of continuing to work the seam was outside their province. The lamps had to be provided by the miners themselves, not the owners, as traditionally the miners had bought their own candles from the company store.


In 1833, a House of Commons committee found that Stephenson had equal claim to having invented the safety lamp.


More generally, the Select Committee on Accidents in Mines reported in 1835 that the introduction of the Davy lamp had led to an increase in mine accidents; the lamp encouraged the working of mines and parts of mines that had previously been closed for safety reasons.

For example, in 1835, 102 men and boys were killed by a firedamp explosion in a Wallsend colliery working the Bensham seam, described at the subsequent inquest by John Buddle as "a dangerous seam, which required the utmost care in keeping in a working state", which could only be worked with the Davy lamp.


In 2016, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, where the Davy lamp prototype is displayed, decided to have the invention 3D scanned, reverse engineered and presented to the museum visitors in a more accessible digital format via a virtual reality cabinet.

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Page generated on 2021-08-05