Archives Research Guide: Resources for electric lighting

A guide highlighting the records available at the IET Archives for the study in the development of electric lighting. Collections include business records, trade catalogues, patents, drawings and photographs. 


  • Lucas and Pyke Collection, 1892, 1920-1935, 1950 - NAEST 019
    Watercolour drawings of electrical light fittings, relating to contracts with various companies for mechanical and electrical services in their buildings; plans for switchboards controlling theatre lighting; plans of electrical services to Bethnal Green Infirmary; photograph of photomontage of members of the Institution in 1892; drawings of electrical clocks, light fittings and fires also relating to contracts.
  • J W Swan material, 1879-1908 - NAEST 073
    Patents concerning the Swan electric lamp and lamp holder, legal documents and pamphlets relating to electric lighting.
  • W P Maycock Collection of Electricity and Wiring Handbooks, 1882-1923 - NAEST 125.
    Manuals referring to A P Lundberg and Sons electric lighting products; Practical Electrical Notes, and Electric Wiring Tables, Instructions for installing Cooper-Hewitt Mercury-Vapour Electric Lamps.
  • The Bosch Magneto Company Ltd - Trade Catalogues, 1910-1916 - NAEST 156
    13 catalogues referring to the Bosch light system, high-tension ignition system, arc light magneto of various types and editions, the Bosch lubricator, also of various types and editions.
  • Papers of Sir William Henry Preece, 1878-1906 - SC MSS 022
    Correspondence, pamphlets and printed material, notes and miscellaneous items chiefly relating to, among other matters, the electric light.
  • Electric Lighting of Paddington Station, 1885, 1895 - SC MSS 029
    Portfolio of 16 mounted photographs entitled 'Electric Lighting for Paddington Station J E H Gordon's System, 1885'. 
  • Papers of W E Staite, 1847-1851 - SC MSS 071
    Manuscript lecture by Staite entitled 'Lighting by Electricity'; 2 volumes of press cuttings, notices etc with manuscript notes entitled 'The Electric Light: Opinions of the Press etc., etc., Notes and Notices. With prefatory remarks on the Invention by W Edwards Staite'.
  • Cecil James Hughes Collection, 1911-1958 - SC MSS 134
    Printed papers referring to the history of electric lighting.
  • Papers of A J Lawson, Engineer and General Manager, County of London and Brush Provincial Electric Lighting Company, 1893 - NAEST 011/11
    Reports on costs of supplying electricity to homes for lighting.
  • International Exhibition of Electricity, 1881 - SC MSS 063
    Photograph album depicting exhibits from the exhibition including photographs of the stands displayed by different countries of their electrical equipment.
  • Papers of Sir William Preece - Correspondence with Lord Kelvin, 1870-1936 - SC MSS 022/VII
    A section of this correspondence discusses the details of his private electrical lighting installation that was one of the first in the country.
  • Material relating to Simplex Electric Company Ltd, 1923-1968 - NAEST 067
    The collection consists of publicity material, technical specifications, price lists and wiring and maintenance instructions for switch and fuse gear, lighting equipment, domestic appliances, conduit fittings for carrying electric cable and flameproof equipment.
  • Electric Lighting by the Swan System at Sir William Armstrong's Residence, Cragside- NAEST 197
    Page from 'The Graphic', an illustrated newspaper, showing five black and white engravings of the interior and exterior of Cragside, Northumberland. 2 April 1888. 

Keywords for searching the online catalogue:

Light Bulbs
Swan Sir Joseph
Edison Thomas
Lane Fox Pitt St George
Siemens Electric Lamps and Supplies Ltd

Other resources on the IET Archives website



Arc Lamps
Domestic lighting



The Paris Electrical Exhibition 1881
An Illuminating letter- St George Lane Fox-Pitt



Sir Joseph Swan
Colonel Crompton