Moscow’s Main Archive Directorate gives exposure of XIX Century’s Inventor and Electrical Engineer Pavel Yablochkov

September 19

The Moscow Main Archive keeps in careful custody the documents linked to the name of Pavel Yablochkov, a great inventor who was one of the initiators of establishing the Electric Division within the Russian Technical Society and publishing the Electricity Journal. For many people his name is associated with illumination of the city streets.

Pavel Yablochkov was born on September 14 (on September 2, under the Julian calendar), 1847 in Serdobsk, Saratov Province. From his early age the boy showed interest in designing and engineering works. Having received home education, the young man enrolled at the Saratov Male Gymnasium but left it soon because his father placed him into the Preparatory Boarding School run by military engineer and composer César Cui in Saint Petersburg. Studying in the Boarding School was enough for P. Yablochkov to make a successful entry into the Nikolaevskoye Engineering College from which he graduated in 1866 and was promoted to engineer-lieutenant. Some time after, Pavel Yablochkov became an student of the Technical Galvanic Institution for Military Officers in Kronstadt, the only institution that trained military electricians at those times.

In 1871 P. Yablochkov left the military service and moved to Moscow. He begins his studies of different types of arc lamps by staging lots of experiments with them and organizes his own enterprise, a workshop laboratory of physics equipment where he does research and talks to clients. But the business turned out unprofitable, and Pavel Yablochkov left for Paris in 1875.

A year later in France the researcher finalized his most outstanding invention: a controller-free arc lamp. The electrical candle of Yablochkov pave way to the first system of electrical illumination. This phenomenon was called “Russian light” and began to be used everywhere. The streets of Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Vienna and many other cities of the world were illuminated by Yablochkov electrical candles.

Many Muscovite wanted to have Yablochkov’s electric illumination system at their houses. And that required construction of a special facility in the central districts of the city to accommodate a machine for current excitation. So, Pavel Yablochkov approached the Moscow City Council on March 23, 1880 with the proposal to provide free illumination of the Theater square and to put two lights in front of the future building of the City Duma. In return the scientist asked the city to lease an undeveloped land plot between the Kitay-Gorod wall and Chelyshev baths for 12 years to set up special equipment there for current generation.

The Main Archive has the communications between city officials who reviewed the scientist’s petition and the organization of street illumination in the city. Having agreed that the place for the machine was correctly selected and new illumination would be more advantageous as compared to liquid gas, the Moscow City Duma laid the foundation for the city electrical illumination.

On April 20 (under the Julian calendar, on April 8), 1880 Pavel Yablochkov was granted a land plot of 120 sq. sazhens for 12 years at the Theater square between the Kitay-Gorod wall and projection of Chelyshev house to construct a building to house steam and electrical machines. Since then the city illumination system in Moscow has been continuously developing.


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