In 1880, Cragside became the first private house to be lit by hydroelectricity. The vase lamps in the library were fitted with Joseph Swan’s newly invented filament light bulbs, and a water-powered Siemens dynamo sent hydroelectricity into the house. The enameled copper vases (Cloisonné) were originally chosen as they could be used as conductors for the electric current. As the light switch hadn’t been invented, the lamps were turned on and off by placing the lamp in a dish of mercury. Luckily, the light switch was invented soon after.
One of a pair of Cloisonné pear shaped enamel vases decorated with leaves and flowers on grey ground, Chinese, probably Daoguans period (2nd Qtr C.19th); converted for electric light by Sir Joseph Swan in 1880. With globular glass shade.
Armstrong collection. Transferred by the Treasury to The National Trust in 1977 via the National Land Fund, aided by 3rd Baron Armstrong of Bamburgh and Cragside (1919 - 1987).