top of page

America 1879 - 1890

When the Brush Electric Light company was formed, Charles Francis Brush was just 30 years old.  He had been working in the American Telegraph & Telephone workshops and prior to that in his father's farm workshop trying to perfect his dynamo and arc light assemblies.  It must be remembered that very few people had ever seen any type of electric device (other than simple batteries), and the few single lights that had been built could only be powered for at most a few hours and were unreliable.  Brush products quickly rose to the top of a very large field of manufacturers, and his mechanisms proved to be reliable and long lasting. The Brush Arc lights either had one or two carbon pairs which needed to be replaced after around 8 hours (or 16 hours) of operation which provided a lucrative "parts" business to the Brush company who supplied around 200 Million replacement carbon rods per year when the arc light installations had become used worldwide.  

In 1879, Charles Francis Brush agreed to sell all his non - United States patent rights to a new company set up in London The Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Company to exploit his products into world markets.  This enabled the new UK based company to start manufacture first in Lambeth near the Thames river in London, when they set up a number of manufacturing locations in Europe.  The London plant expanded until it moved to Loughborough in 1889.  Newspaper cutting below - estimated present day value - $46 Million.       Go see "PATENTS" under the AMERICA tab.

The councilmen of Wabash a small city in Indiana having seen the Cleveland lights demonstration, contracted with the Brush Company to mount four lights on top of theirTown Hall.  These were switched on March 30th 1880 causing much excitement and wonder, reported around the United States.  100 years later (see AMERICA 1980) Wabash celebrated their anniversary, lighting one of the original Brush Arc lights.   

1884 Share Certificate - Helena MT
BRUSH sells UK patents rights to London investor group
1881 SciAm Jan extract

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

On 20th December 1880 - the first electric lighting power plant was switched on to light Broadway in New York City. 


Imagine seeng your first electric light.

Electric-lighting-first-1880 -New-York.j
1880 NYC Broadway Dec arclights.jpg

Christmas 1878 saw the first appearance of electric street lighting in American cities which dazzled shoppers and carolers at the beginning of the electric era.  In the Wanamaker's department store in Philadelphia, six Brush generators and over 40 arc lights had been installed.  Shoppers and sightseers were delighted by the fantastic lights display accompanied by a music recital from the famous Wanamaker organ. All this on Christmas Day to the delight of the public. 


Here is a recent article - which describes the spectacular event.  The same organ still plays today - you can hear it in the UTube link just below.

1878 Wanamaker Store.JPG
bottom of page