Sunday, February 24, 2013

From the Gas Lighting to the Electric Power

NIGM office in Semarang, situated on Bodjong Street (now Jalan Pemuda)
(source: Het Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen )
Hello World! Long time no see, well almost a weeks ago returned back from my KKN(Kuliah Kerja Nyata) or in English we can simplified it such a “live in” programme, where I've stayed for 35 days in the countryside, mostly belongs to the low-welfare status which face the problem like low education level, poverty, bad administration, and so on. Thus, we have to  implementing what we got on da college to the real society.  In my college, it’s a duty to follow this program, and belongs to one of graduated requirement, whether a lot of college in Indonesia no longer obligate this program. I felt blessed because of my college still preserve this program, because I believe, its gonna be fun, yet really I realize, Its really-really unfogetable experience!  

Sleko Gaswork, on the picure marks wits two large
storage tanks, its also visible the Uitkijk above it.
(source: Het Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen )

Talking about my KKN experience, remind me back about how lack the street light is in the countryside. And its such an irony in the modern era like now, there’s still a dark road which it would endangered the rider, plus! In the countryside most of the road itself are following the contour of its earth surface, so its adding the vulnerability for the rider. Street light are important, even for the centuries, people are pay much attention about how to add the street light so that the rider could passed pleasantly during the night. Start from the light from torch, natural oil lamp, light gas who distributed by pipeline network, and now what we enjoyed as our street light source, that’s from electricity.

According to Wikipedia articles, much far before Thomas Alfa Edison invented the incandescent lamp, in the William Murdoch, a James Watt Company in Soho employee invented the lighting system using the flammability of a gas, made from the coal-gas.  Murdoch's invention creates such a big impact for the society on that time. The first public street lighting with gas was demonstrated in Pall Mall, London on January 28, 1807. In 1812, Parliament granted a charter to the London and Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company, and the first gas company in the world came into being. Less than two years later, on December 31, 1813, the Westminster Bridge was lit by gas! And soon its built the gas network thorugh the street, households, offices, and factories.  As artificial lighting became more common, desire grew for it to become readily available to the public. This was in part because towns became much safer places to travel around after gas lamps were installed in the streets, reducing crime rates. Then the gas lighting era, has just begun.

The Lamplighter lighting a gas street lamp, in Stockholm
In Semarang city itself, I don’t know the exact year, but once on early 19th century, its built the Sleko Gaswork, in the west side of Uitkijk. The people of Semarang depended their electricity from this installation. The Sleko Gas work are using coal as their source then the gas are sitributed through the pipeline network to the whole parts of city, so the remains of this facility are still visible in the old building, just see their electricity installation, most of them are still preserved the iron pipe, but now its no longer using gas but cable. Sleko Gaswork are managed by Nederladsch Indische Gas Matschapij or simply called NIGM, which now are nationalized as PT. Gas Negara. Talking about Gas Lamp, are related to the my prevous post about H. Spiegel building,  the famous importeurs and retail stores as well while one’s of the most popular product is the gas lamp. For the centuries, the brand of Spiegel are becoming quality assurance for the gas lamp product. Now, we could saw it in the antique store, a lot of antique lamp has its brand. There's also an interesting story related the gas light era's there's about the lamplighter. The lamplighter are  an officers hired by the city municipal to light the street lighting in the evening and shut it down on the morning.  Of course we couldnt find any lamp lighter nowadays where the street lighting are in automatic mode, but in several country, they hired again the lamp lighter as tourist attraction. 

The current condition of where the Sleko Gaswork located,
there's nothing left only a sign that stated if the land were
belongs to PT Gas Negara property. 
The glory of gas lamp are start to the end during the 20th century, after the Thomas Alfa Edison invented the incandescent lamp also the DC power. Soon the electric power installation are using cabels as its connector. Its safer than the light gas, which somehow are caused case of fire. In Semarang also, soon after the invention of electicity, the installation are built by the Algemeene Nederlandsche Indische Electriciteit Maatschappij or simply called as ANIEM. The gas installation replaced by the cable installation, and the Sleko Gaswork, changed its function become power plant for the electricity needs. After the Independence, Sleko area, where the Gaswork situated are facing the serious flood problems because of uncontrolled reclamation surround it.  Then its shut down, and now, there's nothing remains marked that previously there's a big gaswork, that the people on this city are really depended on that facility for their daily.      
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