Safety lamp and brass wicks, Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay, brass/glass, made by the Protector Lamp and Lighting Company Pty Ltd, made in Eccles, England c.2000
This is one of two miner's lamps that transported the Olympic 'mother flame' from Greece to Sydney in 2000. It was made by the Protector Lamp & Lighting Company in Eccles, Manchester, England in the Garforth GR6S style - a solid brass and glass body with a standard weight of 3.75 pounds, and standard height of ten inches. This lamp now reflects some of the strategies essential to transporting the Olympic flame across continents, and demonstrates the importance of burning the "mother flame" at the Olympic Games.
The Sydney 2000 Olympic Flame was ignited on 12 May in an ostensibly ancient ceremony at Olympia in Greece. According to Olympic custom, this flame would travel to Sydney to light the 2000 Olympic cauldron. Intense weather conditions, including strong winds, rain and hail, were to be expected on such a long journey and were, in part, the reason why the main source of the flame, the "mother flame", would travel in two protective miner's lamps. This precaution ensured that the flame from Olympia would remain alight throughout its journey to the Olympic cauldron. Moreover, it ensured that SOCOG complied with international air-safety regulations that prohibited naked flames from travelling aboard aircraft.
The two miner's lamps used in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay were manufactured by the English firm, the Protector Lamp & Lighting Company. Opening in Eccles, Manchester in May 1873, this company developed a sophisticated, safe and highly luminous style of spirit lamp for use in underground mines. The company patented the lamp in 1891, and the design remains virtually unchanged today.
The mechanism itself comprises a wire gauze cylinder that conducts the flame's heat away from the oil supply within the base. This feature ensures that the temperature outside the cylinder does not rise high enough to ignite methane, which can be present in a mine's atmosphere, potentially causing a disastrous fire. A similar style of miner's lamp was employed in November 1956 to carry the Olympic "mother flame" to the Melbourne Olympic Games.
During its 116-day journey, the 2000 Olympic flame traversed Greece, Oceania and Australia, suffering only minor interference from bad weather and several attempts at sabotage. Each morning, the first torchbearer for the day ignited the Olympic torch from the "mother flame". Throughout the100-day Australian segment, a team of New South Wales police officers maintained constant vigil over the lamps and the "mother flame", and also ran in tandem with the torchbearers and escort runners. Moments after the opening ceremony in Sydney the two miner's lamps were stolen, possibly by thieves posing as Olympic athletes. They were retrieved after a police investigation.
Designed by the Protector Lamp and Lighting Company Pty Ltd
Made by Protector Lamp and Lighting Co Ltd, North Eccles, Manchester, England c.2000
Used in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay (12 May-15 Sep. 2000) to hold the Olympic Flame.
Made for and owned by the Olympic Coordination Authority/Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, and donated to the Powerhouse Museum after use in the Games.