“MY TEA is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky/It’s time to take the window to see Leerie going by/For every night at teatime and before you take your seat/With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street..”

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote these words in the late 19th century, but leeries – or lamplighters – continued to be a feature of Glasgow’s streets until the 1970s.

They were familiar figures you could set your clock by, climbing up their ladders to light the gas lamps which lined the city streets.

But by the early 1970s, electricity was replacing gas, and it was time for the leeries to hang up their lighting poles. (Although they did continue to work as public lighting maintenance engineers, looking after the gas and electric stair lamps in the city closes.)

Sir Donald Liddle, the then Lord Provost, performed the closing ‘ceremony’ for the end of an era - on September 1, 1971, in North Portland Street, watched by 12 long-serving lamplighters with a combined service of 356 years.

Dan Harris grew up in Maryhill and his dad, George, was a lamplighter in Garnethill in the Thirties and Forties.

Glasgow Times:

“I have a great photo of him, taken in 1932, at the depot in Lilac Place,” he recalls. “He is pictured in his uniform, surrounded by his fellow lamplighters – including some women.

“There was a lot of hard work involved in lighting the lamps – and it wasn’t just about going round the streets, there was a lot of maintenance to do too – cleaning the glass panels and replacing damaged gas mantles, for instance.”

Read more: Songs, swoons and Sinatra - the star's visit to Glasgow was a hit

Dan, who now lives in East Kilbride, adds: “I used to help him – the powder smelled awful. My dad had asthma, so sometimes I’d go out with him and I would do all the running up and down the close stairs to see if any of the lights were out.

“I must have been seven or eight at the time. I’d run up and check if any of the lamps were not working so he could then replace the faulty ones.”

Glasgow’s first street gas lamp was installed in 1818 – previously, there had been oil lamps between the Tron Steeple and Stockwell Street as far back as 1780.

Glasgow Times:

In 1819, the Glasgow Board of Police Commissioners decided to convert all street lighting to gas. Electric street lights were introduced in February 1893.

In a Glasgow Times article of 2011, reader Betty Craig described her dad John Gallacher’s working day as a lamplighter.

“I remember vaguely that his working gear consisted of a grey shoulder bag - it would be called a man bag these days - to carry all the fittings he needed in case he came across a faulty lamp in some dark close,” she said.

Read more: When Dolly Parton came to Glasgow - and met the Queen

“Also in his kit would be a wee ladder and a stick which I think had a fitting on the end that produced the fire to enable him to light the gas lamp.

“Little white square boxes in his bag contained the mantles which were very fragile and we were warned not to touch them but would sneak a look when dad wasn’t in the house.”

*Do you remember the old Glasgow lamplighters?

Share your stories and photos with Thanks for the Memories by writing to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.

Alternatively, you can email ann.fotheringham@glasgowtimes.co.uk