Friday, 10 August 2012

Boston lamplighter.

In 1960 one of Boston's three remaining lamplighters, Mr. C. E. Kirkby, of 8, Fydell Street, gave up his "beat" and did a less strenuous job at the works of the East Midlands Gas Board. For 15 years he had cycled and walked round 150 of Boston's gas street lights, lighting, cleaning, and winding the mechanisms that controlled them. It was in 1934 that Mr. Kirkby, a lad of 14 at the time, joined the then Boston Gas Company. His first job was emptying meters, then he became an apprentice fitter. The war sent him to Leicester, where he served with the R.E.M.E. until 1945. "When I came back they were short of lamplighters and I took the job," he explained. "It was as simple as that." His odd job meant odd hours. "Sometimes I didn't get finished till after eleven o'clock at night," he recalled. It meant working in odd weather too. "When there was snow on the ground the lights on the outskirts of town had to be missed. You just can't ride a bike with a ladder on your back through a foot of snow!"
Mr. Kirkby's round took him down Witham Bank West, Carlton Road, Frampton Place and the Tattershall Road area. "I estimate that some days I biked well over twenty miles." he declared. "When I first started doing the job, there were over five hundred gas lights left in the town. Now they are disappearing," he said, with a hint of regret. "Don't suppose there are more than two hundred left now." He explained that the Gas Board maintained the lights for the Corporation. When he retired from the work, he wasn't replaced, and it left only two lamplighters in the town.

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