Models fitted in glass light bulbs

Exibit of the week
Exibit of the week

Whitby Museum displays a large and varied collection of objects in bottles and light bulbs.

Ships in bottles are a well-known product made in coastal areas all around the country, until recent years there were a number of excellent exponents living locally.

Exibit of the week

Exibit of the week

Less familiar is the craft of placing other objects and models in other glass vessels, especially glass lightbulbs.

The many examples of objects in bulbs displayed in the museum are the work of one man, Graham Leach, former surveyor to the Rural District Council, which he gave in 1986.

Mr Leach is now in his 90s, and lives in the Lake District.

Now, thanks to the recent improved lighting installed in the museum, the range of objects and models is staggering, his skill amazing – and some of the bulbs should still light up (though we’re very reluctant to risk them after so long).

They all tell a story, with miniature tableaux connected with maritime exploration and battles, Captain Cook and the theatre.

I have chosen two, the first being a model of the old high light at Whitby, with the fog horn known as the Hawsker Bull, inside a lamp from the lighthouse, as Mr Leach says on the label.

Old-fashioned lighthouse bulbs are ideal – if you can get into them.

Like all electric bulbs they are sealed glass units.

Be prepared – implosion is inevitable.

The lamp was given to Mr Leach by the late Des Sythes, who was keeper of the light for many years, and shows a lighthouseman inspecting his light – appropriately this is Des himself.

The other example shown here is a card bearing four lamps, in size from nine inches down to one inch, which he describes as Convoys for an inland sea, mini-modelling to the nth degree.

See how many you can see.

Each contains models of the same seven vessels.

The left hand one is a Victorian ferry, dated 1871, carrying the Furness Abbey coach on board.

Among these vessels is the Raven making deliveries, and the Lady of the Lake from 1845, and the Branksome, built in 1896, shown as it was in 1966 when Prince Philip took a voyage.