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4 - Electricity as Safety: Constructing a new reputation

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Summary

The dangers associated with the common use of electricity have been abundantly proved. It appears from the paper read at the recent meeting of the Society of Arts by Mr W.H. Preece, that several incipient fires occurred at the Paris Electrical Exhibition through contact of wires, and danger from such a source is recognised at New York, where the fire [insurance] underwriters have issued a code of regulations on the subject. Further illustration is afforded by the recently reported case of a fatal accident at the residence of Lord Salisbury through contact with wires carrying a heavy electrical charge [sic], under circumstances specially favourable for conduction. In view of the probability of the greatly extended use of the agent in question it is very desirable that knowledge on the subject should be spread, and we have the authority of Mr Preece that the forthcoming exhibition at the Crystal Palace is admirably adapted for this purpose […] A successful metropolitan exhibition may lead to provincial ones, at which the public may, whilst selecting the most efficient principle, learn so much of the practical working as will be necessary to render safe the introduction of electricity into the household.

‘The forthcoming electrical exhibition at the Crystal Palace’, Manchester Guardian, 1881.

In the compiling of this little book I have endeavoured to set before the General Public a sketch as to the cost, safety, and superiority of Electricity as a lighting medium, and have tried without the use of technicalities to show how readily and cheaply we can utilize this mysterious force, which is as mysterious to the scientist as to others […] It is hoped that these few pages may help to allay the fears and conquer the prejudices of those who hesitate to adopt electricity for lighting purposes […]

Arthur F. Guy, Electric Light for the Million: a handbook for the uninitiated, of concise practical information on electric lighting and its cost (1889).
Type
Chapter
Information
Domesticating Electricity
Technology, Uncertainty and Gender, 1880–1914
, pp. 91 - 120
Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
First published in: 2014

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