Thursday, May 26, 2022

Remaking the Maldon Town Lamp

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Founded and forged in the Victorian Goldfields, the Maldon Town Lamp has been perfectly recreated from the Victorian Gold Rush era, a time where most small towns made their own lamps locally and did so with limited resources.

The new version of the Maldon Town Lamp at Sunday House.
The new version of the Maldon Town Lamp at Sunday House.

Created in Maldon, sometime around the 1880s, the lamps were installed to light up the public spaces of an evening, for public gatherings at spaces such as, hotels and churches. Only a handful of Maldon Lamps were made and they would have been lost to time, if it were not for one very old and wonderfully preserved photograph.

While the style and impressive size of the lamp are wonderful, it is the story which is truly amazing, and worth preserving.

Back in the day… Maldon, as the residents will quickly tell you, was Australia’s First Notable Town. Almost overnight the town became a pivotal part of Australia’s Gold-rush. From the time it took to whisper ‘there is gold in them thar hills’, Maldon went from a cattle run, to having 30,000 desperate souls in just under a month.

With rapid change comes the makeshift and ramshackle and for those towns lucky enough, the makeshift would be followed by the grand and established. The ‘Maldon Town Lamp’ is from somewhere in the middle. While at one point amongst the richest places on earth, Maldon never became as grand as its more famous Goldfield cousins.

The original ‘Maldon Lamp’ was placed just out front of the Maldon Welsh Baptist church front window. The placement was at head height and right on the footpath outside the small vestibule church entry window. This definitely seems odd today as the lamp would not survive today’s safety standards, however the placement was so the locals could view the week’s sermon times, which were posted in the window.

The Welsh Baptist Church in Maldon, Victoria. Now known as Sunday House.
The Welsh Baptist Church in Maldon, Victoria. Now known as Sunday House.

A romantic or creative person could picture the church’s congregation on their way from the famous Maldon Kangaroo Hotel, to their hut in the diggings. The lamp itself would have most likely been the only lighting on the way home, as like most towns the size of Maldon, street lighting was sparse to non-existent.

The original lamp made at the Calder Foundry and Iron Monger, located no further than fifty meters away from where the lamp was to spend its lifetime, and to where it would eventually be photographed, and in turn found again.

A rare photo of the Maldon Welsh Baptist Church showed the lamp in incredible quality. A fence which is still in place today and the church brick wall background made for a perfect reference for scale.

The present owners of the church (now an accommodation property known as Sunday House) worked with local historians to consider every aspect of the lamp’s story and how it could be brought back to life with consideration of its original purpose and production methods.

A specialist fabricator, Brandan Parrett, worked using the same techniques as used back in the day. Considerations were made as to how to increase the safety and longevity and general needs of the modern world.

Remaining true to the original lamp design meant the lamp had to run on gas and electricity. The addition of a solar powered lamp was the most substantial change, as it was important to us that the cost of installation of the lamp would not prevent others from placing them in their own corners of the town to once again light up its beautiful streets.

If you are interested in having your very own ‘Maldon Lamp’ visit: www.sundayhouse.com.au/maldontownlamp.

Tarrangower Times

This article appeared in the Tarrangower Times, 10 December 2021.

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