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Object Detail

A wooden plaque shaped like a shield with a brass light switch mounted on it. "Presented by the/MAYORESS OF NEW PLYMOUTH/ON THE OCCASION OF THE/ INAUGURATION OF THE ELECTRIC LIGHTING/OF THE TOWN Jan 1906/By the Brush Electrical Engineering Co Ltd" is inscribed on a metal plate which is screwed onto the plaque. Two metal rings are attached to the reverse with a strand of white cord tied to them.
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A flick of a switch sparked great fanfare in 1906 when New Plymouth was bathed in electric light for the first time. Civic leaders turned out in force on 19 January to witness streetlights powered by the Mangorei power scheme in action. There was much speechmaking and celebrating before the Mayoress, Alice Cock, threw the switch to light up the town. The Taranaki Herald reporter was impressed with the result. "The streets were at once brightly illuminated, the final act being signalised (sic) by hearty cheering from the assemblage." Forty one households and business were connected up to the scheme in its first year and by 1912 there were 230 consumers hooked up. Until state supplied power was connected in 1935 the power station, by the Waiwhakaiho River near Burgess Park, supplied all of the town's electricity. The much altered power station is still operational today. The plaque was hung on the wall of a beach house in Whitianga for about 30 years before it was donated to Puke Ariki by the Fairbrother family in 2006.
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