Pressure Lamps International - Empire Light

Pressure Lamps International

The Empire Light Co. Ltd

©AWMoore 2003


Little is known about the Empire Light Company Ltd, and there is every possibility that this company was simply representing one or other of the world's major lighting companies based in Europe or the USA. The only Empire Light address I have at present is 16, Victoria Square, Montreal, Canada. The attached postcard photo shows their offices somewhere around 1920, but the date is very uncertain.

empire 01

At first, you would be tempted to think that the tall building behind the statue of England's Queen Victoria is part of the Empire Light complex, but some computer enhancement reveals the name Mark Fisher & Sons right at the top behind the telegraph pole, and also along the facia above the ground floor windows. The smaller building on the left is the Empire Light offices. On the wall to the left of the building the words can be seen "The Worlds Cheapest Artificial Illuminant." and below, "The Empire Light burns coal gas, 1000 candle power for 2c per hour". At the bottom, "Canadian Agents for Empire Light Company Ltd. 16 Victoria Square"

In front of the statue is a gasoline pressure street light, "model number 100 Pillar Lamp-post" This petroleum vapour lamp is described as both handsome and convenient. The oil tank is in the base, locked. The commentary goes on to say that Empire Light also supply lamps giving the same illumination for store and factory use, as well as small types for houses. One of these small types can clearly be seen in the window to the left of the telegraph pole. Again, some computer enhancement suggests this smaller lamp is a free standing table lamp with the kero or gas reservoir at the bottom, with an ornamental shade over one or two mantles. I can't explain the see-through legs of the person in the foreground - maybe something to do with exposures on the original photograph!

In the absence of any other evidence, this photo suggests a number of possibilities.

1) Although printed in Canada by the News Pub. Co., Westmount, Quebec, the language on the commentary on the back is undoubtedly English - in particular the use of the words and spellings petroleum, not gasoline, vapour, not vapor. This suggests to me that there is a link to England or an English company. (OK, Canada was considered a dominion at that time, so there would always be a link anyway...)
2) Note the wording on the side wall of the building - Canadian Agents for Empire Light Company - so this is not a native Canadian company.
3) Note the wording on the top of the side wall - The World's Cheapest Artificial Illuminant. Suggests an international link, otherwise it would be Canada's cheapest.....

I think that the parent here might possibly be Kitson Empire Lighting Co. of Stamford, England. They had over 3 million lamps in use by the time of WW1, and were certainly advanced enough to be exporting after the end of the war. Street lighting was one facility that Kitson offered, and this could easily be migrated overseas. However, this is only a suggestion, and if you know different - tell me!

 

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