Pressure Lamps International

The Ramie Co. - Kildark Lamps

©AWMoore 1999


Wholly intact examples of Kildark are rare, but given that there was an extensive range of lamps marketed in the UK, there probably are surviving examples. A tatty bracket lamp fount found at a recent Antique and Collectors Fair had been converted to a wick heater by soldering the wick holder into the centre of the fount, but the legs and the keyhole hanger gave it away as originally coming from a wall lamp. Underneath the grime, the name Kildark was found. Two pages from a Hoods Ltd (Birmingham, UK) catalogue of 1926 show a range of Kildarks, and the bracket lamp was shown amongst them. They were all available in paraffin or petrol burning versions, and the table lamp was advertised with six different cosmetic finishes. It seems then that Kildark were well established by 1926, and I am hoping that some more information will be available from other collectors soon. Petrol (gasoline) was not a popular lighting in the UK at that time, so there is the first suggestion of a North American link.

Kildark pressure lamps were made and marketed by the Ramie Company, a branch of Lighting Trades Ltd, based at Bredbury, near Stockport, England in the years following WW1. It is likely that most of the manufacturing was carried out locally, but there is always the possibility that components from other manufacturers were bought in. For example, the burners on some Kildark lamps resemble those of the Diamond lamp made by Akron in the United States. Some sources argue that the closeness of match is conclusive evidence of a relationship between the Akron Lamp Co. and The Ramie Company, while others suggest that this is only speculation, and the claim is seriously weakened by the absence of supporting documentary evidence. There have been many cases of a manufacturer simply copying components made elsewhere, either in violation of a foreign patent, or legally because of patent localisation, so it appears that further information is necessary.

We can say for certain that in the Akron design the burner top comes off with a locking screw at the top of the valve assembly (allowing the generator to unscrew without a fixing nut), and the same arrangement appears on Kildark products. There is evidence of a Kildark burner patent in the UK, but the extent of use and duration of the burner is not known.

There is little else to say at the moment, but the images following give an idea as to the extent of Kildark's role in the UK lighting industry of the mid 1920s.

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Indoor and Outdoor versions of the Bracket Lamp KK235 and KK237

The two table lamps below are kerosene versions, both are 300CP. The plain lamp was available in nickel plate, polished brass, oxidised brass, polished copper, oxidised copper or oxidised silver finish. The lamp on the right was only available in "superior oxy-copper". Prices ranged from 54/- to 82/6

 

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Kildark Table Lamps

 

There is not a great deal of detail given in the Lighting Trades pages, but "Kildark lamps burn petrol or paraffin, and can be lit quickly and easily with a couple of matches or a taper" the advert says.

Another version is the Pendant Lamp, KK238, which "hangs quite steadily, and is easily removable from the frame for cleaning or filling purposes. Height overall is 38 ins"

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Kildark Pendant Lamp

Finally, the lantern, which unusually is advertised as a hurricane lantern. It is "a soundly constructed and durable lantern, which is storm and insect proof. Invaluable to farmers and garage owners. Height 14 inches". Since protection from insects is not commonly mentioned in UK specifications, I wonder if there is a North American link somewhere. A similarity between Kildark and the Diamond brand lamps from Akron, in Ohio USA has been spotted by David Jahn, but so far I have not been able to compare the Hoods advertising with that of Akron. If anyone has copies of Akron literature, or photographs which they would be prepared to let me see, I would be grateful. Geoff Johnson from Urafirth in the Shetlands reports that Kildark may have been part of Lighting Trades.

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Kildark Hurricane Lantern

All indoor lamps used a 10 inch ribbed shade, and no other form of ornamentation is illustrated. There is a vague similarity between the lamps shown in the Hood catalogue and Evening Star, another British Lamp. The table lamps look very similar, and one Evening Star fount looks rather like the lamp component of the Kildark pendant lamp. Can anyone offer further thoughts about possible links between the two companies? There are suggestions that they were both part of the Lighting Trades Ltd. group.

 

 

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