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Davy's Safety Lamp used for the First Time

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

#18 Science in History

09 January 1816


On this day in 1816, the Davy safety lamp was trialled at Hebburn Colliery in North-East England.



The safety lamp was a crucial invention that saved countless lives in coal mines around the world.


In the early 19th century, explosions caused by the ignition of flammable gases such as methane were a common hazard in coal mines.




Davy's safety lamp was the first of its kind to be used in a coal mine. It worked by enclosing the flame in a wire gauze screen, which prevented the flame from coming into contact with flammable gases. Additionally, the lamp's flame changed colour in the presence of methane, serving as a warning to the miner to take protective action.


The first trial of the Davy lamp was a complete success. For his invention, Davy was awarded the Rumford Medal by the Royal Society and given a sum of £2,000 in silver.





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