Gas and electric light at Frankston – improvement imperative

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THE Frankston Gas Works (its registered name is longer, more imposing, and includes some reference to electric light) failed to show any sign of animation last Friday night.

In the past “The Works” have been afflicted with varied and numerous ailments – some serious, others merely superficial – but all more or less affecting the efficiency of the light supply – particularly the electric light.

Whatever may be the deficiencies at “The Works” there is certainly no lack of imagination in framing excuses for their numerous shortcomings.

Reckless opossum in sportive mood have been blamed for intercepting electric current while wayward branches of overhanging trees are instanced as the frequent cause of reduced current.

A fashionable summer ailment at “The Works” is shortage of water supply, and it must prove awkward when the season does not render this a valid excuse.

In the winter, of course, there is a larger variety of “causes” to choose from. Floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes, all serve to explain why the light failed.

Last Friday’s stoppage, it is said, was due to the lack of coal.

It was not that coal was unprocurable, but simply that supplies had been allowed to run out.

“The Works” received its belated consignment of coal on Saturday morning and the shipping strike received all the blame.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, residents have become inured to the discomforting vagaries of “The Works” and it was no unusual task for the people to set forth their kerosene lamps and patiently await developments.

Long practice is making the task commonplace.

The ever-increasing price of commodities, the shortage of sugar and the machinations of the profiteer arouses the average householder to a display of intense indignation.

But, the failure of Frankston’s light! Well, that is an evil to be borne philosophically, like one’s pet corn.

It has come to be accepted as a characteristic peculiar to the town – something like the Kananook Creek or the stray dog nuisance.

Authority sits calmly by, and if occasion demands will number the gas supply and electric light amongst Frankston’s acquisitions.

The presence of gas there is no denying. It pervades the atmosphere in every direction.

One advantage connected with the recent stoppage at “The Works” was the welcome freedom from, for one night at least, nauseous gas fumes, which regularly pervade the streets as well as the houses.

The existence of the electric light is not so easily proved.

It is altogether a Will-o-the-wisp affair and quite as illusive.

The uncertainty attaching to its materialisation was demonstrated at the Mechanics’ Hall on Saturday night last, when hanging kerosene lamps burned blithely alongside electric globes.

The combination, although appearing , rather incongruous, was quite necessary, experience having proved that the electric power of the Frankston brand is most eratic and as likely as not would plunge a church concert into inky blackness, just as readily as it would a “Welcome Home” entertainment.

When the works remained silent on Friday night the town, as before stated, brought out its reserve forces in the shape of kerosene lamps.

It would be incorrect to say that the users of gas as an illuminant suffered no inconvenience thereby. They did. So did the users of the electric light, but the latter have long since learned to expect the light when they see it.

At “The Standard” office (where the large printing machine is worked by a gas engine, the publication of the paper was delayed for some hours.

“The Works” in addition to a shortage of coal were evidently extra deficient in a supply of common civility.

No notice was given to “The Standard” that power could not be supplied as usual, and it was not till Friday afternoon, when the paper was ready for press, that the discovery was made that there was no gas in the pipes.

Other people in the town were treated with more consideration.

“The Standard”is not a favorite at “The Works”, which perhaps accounts for the discrimination shown.

“The Works” may represent a monopoly in its own particular line, but its sphere does not extend to a censorship of “The Standard” columns, and if the price of “The Standard’s” silence is the favor and good will and bad gas of “The Works,” “The Standard” elects to do without the favor and the good will, but claims the same rights and privileges as other users to whatever power. “The Works”’ have at their disposal to those who pay for it, be the commodity good, bad or indifferent.

How much longer the Shire Council intends tolerating the existing conditions in connection with Frankston’s lighting resources is a matter very largely in the hands of ratepayers themselves.

Dire threats have frequently been made at the Council table as to what would eventuate if “The Works” did not make a better showing.

Time limits have been fixed and conferences held, but no improvement is as yet discernable.

Prolific in excuses as to causes of light failure, “The Works” never refers to their machinery and plant as being the sole cause of inefficiency.

Any promise of improvement made to the Council which does not include an improved plant, the additions of refiners to purify the gas and accumulators for the storage of electric power should not be considered.

This matter is seriously affecting commercial prosperity of the town.

Despite assertions to the contrary, electric power is not available in Frankston, in an accurate sense of the term.

Only this year three local business houses intending to install electric motors, found to their dismay that electric current was not available except at night, and even then it was unreliable.

The housewife cannot use the electric iron for pressing the family linen until after 8 o’clock at night, and not later than 11pm., and yet “The Works” are supposed to produce a “continuous current.”

People are becoming so heartily sick and tired of the whole thing that many who can afford to do so intend installing air gas plants during the ensuing year; others have shut off their meters and have reverted to kerosene light.

Mention has been made of another company being formed to supply electric power in Frankston.

It is argued that any contract entered into by the Council in the past is now void, because of the non-fulfillment of conditions, and that the way is open for fresh negotiations to be opened up.

The time seems opportune for the ratepayers to exercise their rights, and ask the Shire Council to explain the position.

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A SPLENDID line of preserving jars just arrived at G E Rogers & Son.

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MISS Nicholson, clerk in the employ of Messrs Brody and Mason, met with a painful accident last Wednesday, through getting her fingers caught in the door of the fireproof safe.

Fortunately no bones were broken.

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FRANKSTON dairy men announce an increase in the price of milk, on and after the 18th inst.

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FROM the pages of the Mornington Standard, 6 February 1920

First published in the Mornington News – 11 February 2020

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