By historian Roger Bingham of Ackenthwaite:

FEBRUARY'S dark nights were a good time for our 19th-century ancestors to consider a new form of illumination – gas light.

Kendal got gas light in 1825, barely 25 years after it was pioneered in London.

But country villages had to wait much longer. It was only in February 1860 that the Milnthorpe Gas, Coal and Coke Company bought a site for a gas works at Crampton’s Mill on the banks of the River Bela.

Exactly a year later, The Cross Keys, three other inns, several shops and a few private residences had gas laid on.

Nevertheless, the Westmorland Gazette reported “the work had not made the progress that it would have done through excessive leaking”. But it conceded “the inhabitants can now make their way to the post office at night without fear of accident”.

Milnthorpe’s gas works closed in 1970 when some of its equipment went to Beamish Hall Museum, Durham. There is now only one gas lamp post left in the village.

But Burton is still graced by an elaborate standard erected for the ‘switch on’ which marked the wedding of the Prince of Wales on March 10, 1863.