Objects | Industry


Portrait of Dr. William Reid Clanny

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Tyne and Wear

Mining, Inventions

1800 – 1899

Dr William Reid Clanny, was born in Ireland, studied medicine at Edinburgh and served as a surgeon in the Royal Navy before moving to Sunderland in 1805. In 1831, he was involved in dealing with Sunderland's cholera epidemic. However, his great contribution to science was in finding a solution to the problem of safe lighting in coal mines.

Mines were prone to penetration by methane gas which caused many fatal explosions. Dr Clanny was at the forefront of research into the safe lighting of mines and his lamp design, first presented to the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge in 1813, gives him a very good claim to be the inventor of the miners' safety lamp.

Portrait by John Reay

On display at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Time Machine Gallery

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