Lamp lighters – seasonally paid work

lamp-lighter_2032760cAn important decision on whether or not lamplighters came under the category of ‘seasonal workers’ was received on 18th September 1933 by District Councillor James Beecroft, Blantyre. In an interview. Mr Beecroft said that in June 1932, the Scottish Divisional Office issued a circular to the Courts of Referees stating that “lamplighters had to be accepted as seasonal workers.”

When the Blantyre cases had been turned down by the Court of Referees, and also by the umpire, Mr Beecroft made representation to the Minister of Labour. He was notified by the Ministry that the claim of the Blantyre lamplighters had succeeded, and that they should and would be paid for every day during unemployment of the current year, and payment would be made retrospective from the end of the last lamplighting season to the beginning of the present season!

With gas lights needed lit at different times of the evening, each year, I wondered about this. What was the time and durations that these people were unemployed, yet still being paid? It is probably a good indication that in Summer where it was still light at 10 or 11 o’clock in the evening, that some street lamps may not even have been lit at all, due to the short duration until morning light. The period of unemployment, most likely was at high summer, and I can imagine a smile on the gas lamp lighter’s faces heading to bed those evenings, knowing there would be a wage for them at the end of the week. I suppose to some people, especially in dangerous professions e.g coal mining, this may have seemed an injustice at the time.

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