Dr Alan Moore & Dr Patricia Moore, Northampton, United Kingdom
This is a brief introduction to Patsy and myself and the story behind one of our hobbies.
We were both born in Northampton soon after the end of WW2, and we grew up just a few streets away from each other, although we didn't know that at the time! We first met properly in the early 1960s at our local church, we went to the same school, and started dating in 1965. We were married in 1970. After that we had two sons, and started to develop our own careers. Pat had already qualified as a schoolteacher, and I qualified as a Chartered Engineer in 1971. We both continued our studies for quite a long time, gathering experience in several disciplines. I have a first class honours degree, a BSc in Life Sciences from the University of Leicester, and Pat has a Masters degree, also from the University of Leicester. We both have doctorates, mine is a PhD incorporating world leading research on subsurface fluid movement in unsaturated particulate structures, and Pat's is an EdD in therapeutic intervention in the Rett Syndrome. I also have qualifications in surveying, accident investigation, and a Home Office certification in Crime Prevention. My work career has been with major industrial companies including Plessey and Johnson & Starley, then later with the Police as an Accident Investigator and a Crime Prevention Officer. My academic research work has also been with the Ministry of Agriculture at Cranfield University, the Faculty of Education at The University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia, and more recently with the Road Accident Research Department at the University of Western Australia in Perth. I have various papers and published articles dealing with cervical spine injury, curriculum development in Queensland, analysis of Roman and Anglo Saxon building materials, and water movement in unsaturated soils. At present I work for Northampton Borough Council, and I have a special interest in assistive technology supporting people that suffer from dementia. Pat's work has mostly been in Special Education, and she is currently deputy Headteacher at a special school for children with profound and multiple disabilities. Her work has taken her to Australia, Africa and Europe. For part of her first university course she lived and studied in Tours, heart of the Loire Valley, in France. She also has produced various work on Educational Development, Stress in schools, and therapies administered to children with progressive neurological disorders.
We are both interested in pressure lamps, but not obsessively so, and maintaining the Pressure Lamps website is just one of our many hobbies. Our interest in old lighting goes back to a warm summer night in Queensland in 1989, where we lived in a lovely old house on the Range with a big swimming pool at the side. There were banana and apricot trees in the garden, possums in the roof, snakes in the backyard, and more redback spiders under the house than you could shake a stick at. Bladder cicadas as big as your thumb had to be fished out of the pool on a regular basis, but they at least stayed on the surface and were harmless, unlike the funnelweb spiders, whose bite could be fatal unless treated promptly. One day we found a bandicoot drowned in the pool, and another time there were the most vivid green tree frogs there, but we didn't mind sharing the water with the frogs. At night the pool was lighted by a powerful overhead electric floodlight, great for looking at the detail on the bottom, but hardly in keeping with the romantic setting of the cicadas chirping underneath a million stars as we relaxed over a bottle of wine. We wanted something softer to light the pool area from low down, and I didn't want electricity where there was water. Ordinary hurricane lanterns weren't bright enough, so we bought a secondhand pressure lamp from a junk shop off Ruthven street down in the town. When I started it up, the mixed smells of spirit and kerosene, and the warm hiss of the burning gas suddenly brought back a whole flood of memories that I had forgotten. I was a small child again, back with my grandfather on Northampton market. Our market square back home was one of the largest open markets in Europe, and in the early 1950s the traders would light their stalls with a wonderful array of different kinds of pressure lamps and lanterns. On that summer night in Toowoomba, I was suddenly back among the market traders looking up at the soft yellow lights, and wondering at the smells and sounds of the winter market.
That first lantern was unbranded, and as the Aussies would say, it was "...a bit of a mongrel". Still, we enjoyed it, and it turned out to be the first of many similar lanterns that we acquired on our travels. We've added to the collection over the years, but my main interest has always been the histories of the people that made the first pressurised lighting and my aims are to preserve a little of their history.
Our other interests include travel and culture - we've been round the world three times, we've been all round Australia, and across it west to east, we've crossed the Nullabour, driven the Gibb River Road by 4x4 up to Kununurra, we've been isolated in Alice Springs by flash floods, we've confronted crocs in the waters of Kakadoo, climbed to the top of Uluru in the cool of dawn, picked leeches off our skin in the Daintree River, slept in the open in the Western Desert and the rainforest of North Queensland, snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, watched turtles hatch on a tropical beach, and been bitten by most Ozzie insects! We've been to France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Portugal, Canada, USA, Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories, Crete, and others I've probably forgotten.
High up on a big elephant, somewhere in Thailand
In South Africa Pat has camped alongside Kipling's "...great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees"; she's come face to face with a rhino in Zimbabwe, been protected by a guard with poison arrows and a bow in Uganda, sailed a raft on the Zambezi river, eaten fish from the White Nile, and enjoyed Christingle in Sweden. So, we are very fortunate to have our memories, and to have so many friends in so many countries too. Our hobbies have included rifle and pistol shooting, geology, writing, a little archeology, collecting and identifying local fossils, reading, observing wildlife, short wave radio, designing and flying radio controlled aircraft, home computing since the ZX81, a little bit of DIY, and an even littler bit of gardening. I also have a great interest in aircraft, and I remember the excitement of sitting in the front seat of the only Lancaster bomber still flying - sadly, they wouldn't let me take her up!
So lamps and lanterns are just a very tiny part of our lives. Of course, every field of interest has it's enthusiasts, and while I have lots of satisfaction and pleasure from sharing knowledge with the friends we've made, it's not always that way. I'm not an expert, and I will never claim to be. I prefer to stand to one side and watch the debates go one - sometime with a mix of amusement and despair. I have the greatest respect those modest researchers that go quietly about their business, but I've been a professional researcher for very many years and I well understand how the desire to be known as an expert can lead the unwary astray, and I've seen myth become confused with fact. So I make no claims at all in this enterprise - Alexander Pope was right - "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again."
High up on a big rock, somewhere near Kalbarri, Western Australia.