Cerney Street Lamp
The Story of a Cerney Street Lamp
Roland Wakefield charts the history of a village artefact
If you travel through Cerney Wick, you will notice that in the garden of Eden House is a street lamp that would not appear out of place in a Victorian melodrama. In fact, it is one of the last surviving gas lamps that once gave a glimmer of light to the streets of South Cerney.
So how did it come to be in Cerney Wick?
Twelve gas street lamps were originally installed in South Cerney in the 1920s and this one stood in Upper Up at the bottom of The Langet where children would gather on dark autumn evenings to play conkers, 'Kick the Can' or discuss the important things of life, such as the latest wireless programme, pop song or 'Will Swindon Town ever win a match?'
By the end of the 1950s the gas lamps were becoming unreliable. Often they would not ignite and, when they did, the light produced would not be very bright.
The Parish Council, therefore, decided that they should be replaced by more efficient and brighter electric lighting. This rendered the old gas lamps redundant and they were gradually dug up and removed for scrap.
Short move across the road
My father, Sid Wakefield, spotted an opportunity to get an unusual garden feature and asked if he could purchase the one from Upper Up.
This was agreed (I think it cost him a fiver) and I can remember helping to carry the lamp post across the road to the garden of our cottage, which at the time was called 'Vallaquie' and was later renamed 'Well Cottage'.
The street lamp was installed and as Father was an electrician, he wired it up to act as an outside electric light for the cottage.
That was where it stood for the next twenty years giving, I'm sure, a much brighter light than it ever did when it was a gas lamp.
The move to Cerney Wick
In about 1978, 'Rose Cottage' in Cerney Wick (which Mother had inherited) became available for development and my parents decided that as the cottage was too derelict to renovate, they would demolish it and build themselves a new house on the site, and that became known as 'Eden House'.
When the time came to move, they took with them various garden ornaments, the bird bath, staddle stones and of course the lamp post, which was once again uprooted and transported to Cerney Wick this time on Uncle Jim Stait's lorry.
Here it was installed and rewired to give light once again.
When Mother and Father moved to Suffolk in 1989, they decided the lamp post was this time too big to take with them, so they left it in the garden of Eden House and that is where it still is today.