Vauxhall Gardens Fireworks and Illuminations

KorbenDallas

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An Irish gentlemen visiting Vauxhall Gardens in 1752, whose name is not recorded, wrote about the astonishing effect of the illuminations, "The garden strikes the eye prodigiously; it is set with many rows of tall trees, kept in excellent order, among which are placed an incredible number of globe lamps, by which it is illuminated, and when they are lighted the sound of the music ravishing the ear, added to the great resort of company so well dressed and walking about, would almost make one believe he was in the Elysian fields."

According to the description below, these lamps are oil based: "servants placed in strategic parts...". How realistic would that be?

Vauxhall Garden Illuminations 1.jpgVauxhall Garden Illuminations 3.jpgVauxhall Garden Illuminations 2.jpgVauxhall Pleasure Gardens.jpg


Official explanation, "Illuminations were often used in conjunction with fireworks, and were static structures lit by hundreds of small glass lamps fuelled with oil. The structures were often temporary things, but the illuminations (the small glass oil lamps) could also be affixed to “illuminate” more solid structures, as in this picture below by Rowlandson from Ackermann’s The Microcosm of London, showing the illuminated bandstand at Vauxhall Gardens

The term could also refer to the strings of lamps illuminating the walks of the pleasure gardens as was the case at many of the gardens in England throughout the 18th century and up to the middle of the 19th century.

At a time when the brightness of electric light was unknown and candles used en masse was terrifically and prohibitively expensive, the sight of coloured lights illuminating the gardens at night, among the trees, must have been breath-taking."

Dramatic Lighting Method

The method of lighting the lamps at Vauxhall was very dramatic. During supper a whistle was blown as a signal to a number of servants placed in strategic parts of the garden. Each servant touched a match to pre-installed fuses, and, instantaneously over a thousand oil lamps were illuminated, bathing the gardens in a warm light that would have been visible for miles around." - source

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Any opinions on this method of lighting the lamps (could those be oil lamps in reality), and fire safety?
 

Aldebaran

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Look what I found in an old german book > news item about an Illumination or Electric Lighting show of the Kremlin in Moscow 1883 for the corronation of Emperor Alexander III in 1883, with Info about the event in German that talks about the technology a bit (if there is a German around on the forum can he please translate it properly please? DANKE!)

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nothingnew

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Look what I found in an old german book > news item about an Illumination or Electric Lighting show of the Kremlin in Moscow 1883 for the corronation of Emperor Alexander III in 1883, with Info about the event in German that talks about the technology a bit (if there is a German around on the forum can he please translate it properly please? DANKE!)

The crowning in Moscow.
Illumination of Kremels

During the crowning ceremonies in the old Tzar-City Moscow, which outlines a perimeter of at least three miles, was marvelously illuminated for a whole week. The most sparkling was the inner city, the so called Bjelgorod or white city with its big terrases, public buildings and private palaces. In particular the monumental building of the brewery (Mosthaus), his wonderful, unique "Kremel".

After already observing the main part of the various building styles, their purpose and significance of various architectures of the wall-enclosed irregular triangle that is the Kremel, in "Nro" 34 (the big Baron castle built under Kaiser Nikolaus), our painter gives us today the whole picture of the longest part of the shore of the river-stream, to which the front part of the Kaiserpalace is pointed that shows a never seen and never witnessed illumination, combined with colorful Lampions, Bengal fires and especially electric light with conversion of the "new best system" (literally translated) used for the first time on such a scale. Obviously it is nearly impossible to describe such enchanting cities with a pen and black and white ink, which on all his three sides of the Kremel is surrounded by red brick, a oleander garden, and the Moskwa-shoreline. The drawer tried to depict this sparkling sight from the Moskwa-shoreline, so he chose the best location to be the balcony in the house of mr. Heuß, a big-industry German from Stuttgart, whos front was oriented towards the flooding masses showing the countless passengers in carriages wiggling thorough the sealed off streets that left one in pure admiration. From this viewpoints you could see (depicted on image at far right) the highest tower of Moscow, which Iwan Welisi illuminated, from the bottom of the church to the top, including the cross with soft electric light that made it stand out from the colorful background. The blending white light, which emanating from tower and church gave a wonderful contrast to the other illumination throughout the city (the sailors of the kaisers fleet placed the electric bulbs under risk of death and to admiring spectators even on the very top of the tower). Colorful lights were used throughout Kremlin that looked like beautiful emeralds and rubies. Some parts of Kremlin were then partially lit by red and green electric and Bengalese light, for example the bigger tower on the far right in depiction, with his Gothic form, or the smaller thicker towers of the bastion with its roofs in green, glazed bricks. Of also glorious effect, was the fountain, which was also illuminated through prisms showing all colors of the rainbow one after another. As a matter of fact, the nights looked like something straight out of "thousand and one night". It was done in honor of the prince of Wales in the castles of India and profoundly elevated by the charm of the surrounding tropics and palm-trees. And still, the nightlight in Kremlin from 15./27. May may have placed the ladder even higher. Of course this needed months in preparations from artists, the technicians and workers. On the side of the house Heuß in the (List'ichen - sry unreadable) establishment were the machines divided and produced for the light-system. Also the List'iche house and the factory, once a Boyar palace, were marvelously illuminated. The only dark thing was the Moscow-stream, which, like a fairy tale, flowed through the rows of buildings to complete the dream from the orient.
 
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Andrinus

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Hey @nothingnew, great job! (y)

I would like to propose a slightly different translation for the 3rd-last sentence, which I read:

Beside the House Heuß on the List' property, the machines for the Hornsby illuminating system were installed, which also have been produced right there.

A bit unexpected here is the word hergestellt which really means 'produced' and not something more expectable like 'assembled'.

And today one would use Beleuchtung instead of Erleuchtung because the latter translates better to spritual enlightenment than to physical light. Or, wait a second... 😇

But the thing here is: what exactly is a Hornsby illuminating system?
 

BrokenAgate

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The method of lighting the lamps at Vauxhall was very dramatic. During supper a whistle was blown as a signal to a number of servants placed in strategic parts of the garden. Each servant touched a match to pre-installed fuses, and, instantaneously over a thousand oil lamps were illuminated, bathing the gardens in a warm light that would have been visible for miles around.
Do they have any evidence that this is how it was done, or is it all just conjecture based on the narrative that electricity didn't exist that far back? Nevermind, I think we all know the answer to that one. None of those lights look as if they could be oil lamps.
 

jd755

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Oil lamps have a wick that must be lit by match or similar aka an existing flame. Also they require adjustment as the wick burns down. The idea that they could all be lit by fuses 'in one go' is ludicrous, to me at least and just another layer of deliberate lies being laid out for us as breadcrumbs to nowhere land.
 
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