Lavendon’s Saxon church
All Good Things Come to an End

Let There be Light

1960s MK light switch  Lavendon

The Monday Photo

This switch in the porch of Lavendon’s church of St Michael reminds me of my childhood home, but how?

After a rewire in the late 1960s we had the white versions of these switches installed everywhere in the house. The switches were made by the MK Company (nothing to do with Milton Keynes) and electricians liked them; they were good quality. They are plastic, not bakelite.

At one time you could see them everywhere, and if you look at films and television made on location from the 1960s to the 1990s you’ll often spot them in the background. They are easy to spot with their curved face design.

Our early 50s house must have been originally wired with square pattern switches, as the old back boxes in the wall were reused.

But when we moved there in 1964 we found lighting in our brick built sheds, with the older style of round pattern switches. I think they were installed by a previous householder, as the circuit included a 13 amp socket but was wired to the 5 amp house lighting circuit!

Using a shed as a darkroom one winter, I switched the electric fire to both bars and all the lights in the house went out. The fire was rated at 2,000 watts, more than eight amps, so I’m not at all surprised!

In my defence I was only 16 and this was a long time before I trained as an electrician. I know better now…

The cables to the switch in today’s photo have been replaced but with a different route; two of the old style metal cable clips are still visible; one near the switch and the other is on the far right of the photo.

Whoever rewired the circuit was expert enough to make a tidy job of it; they must have judged this old switch fit for further use.

But if you think about it, the switch has had a fairly easy life, being operated far less times than one in somebody’s living room or kitchen. So fair enough; I would have used it again, too.

The wall of the South aisle that the switch is fixed to is a good 750 years older than the switch; what would those Medieval masons thought of electric lights?

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I like the story and generally love to see old architecture with modern tech.

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