The Garforth Lamp

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The Flame-safety lamp was the main way of testing for gas in the 19th and 20th century. By looking at the shape and colour of the flame, a skilled miner could tell the amount of dangerous gases in the air. To test the lighter-than-air gas, you needed to lift the lamp to the ceiling which at times made testing difficult. 

Sir William Edward Garforth 1843-1921 was a pioneer coal owner and advocate for the need for rescue teams and improving safety underground. An able inventor, he came up with the idea of a system to test gas that meant bringing the gas to the lamp rather than the other way round. 

During gas testing, the Garforth principle uses aspirator bulbs to bring samples of air to the lamp, rather than move the lamp into potentially dangerous air. The samples taken are injected into an inlet in the base of the lamp to determine the amount of methane present. In 1959 the Safety in Mines Research Establishment (SMRE) returned to Garforth’s idea and it developed into the final stage of flame safety lamp design. Both Protector and Wolf of Sheffield manufactured their variations of the Garforth lamp, a lamp still used today. 

Posted in Learn | Heritage


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