Information requested about this Nife Electric Hand Lamp?

I have an electric hand lamp 70mmx70mm square by 100mm tall. It has a 60mm dia. reflector at the front with a belt clip at the back. The hinged lid has a carrying handle and a plate which reads:





This lamp was originally the property of a relation of mine and originated from a County Durham colliery.

The lid has a hinged clasp which fits over a lug on the reflector housing.  This arrangement is "lockable", presumably with either a lead seal or sealing wax to prevent access to the battery or bulb whilst underground.  I believe it to be 1920's - 30's vintage.  Has anyone any idea of its age or history?

Submitted By : Eric Dack.
Date: March 2003

I also have a similar Nife hand lamp which came from the Bala area of North Wales. It is pictured below.
This lamp was used during the construction of the Llyn Celyn Hydro Electric Plant, built by Liverpool Water Works in the early 60's. The lamp's name plate reads;
Alkaine Batteries Ltd., Redditch, England
M.O.F.P. Safety Lamp
Approval No. B85
Submitted By : Simon Marles.
Date: October 2004.

In 1918 the Swedish battery company Svenska Ackumulator AB Jungnor started a subsidiary company in the UK under the name Batteries Ltd, using the brand name NIFE, and operating at Hunt End Works, Redditch, on a site that had been previously occupied by The Royal Enfield Cycle Company.  The new company commenced manufacturing, assembling batteries from components made in Sweden.  Some 3 or 4 employees were involved at this stage.  During 1920 the facilities expanded.


In 1926 Lucas CAV took a financial interest in the company with an entitlement to two directors.


In 1929 Varta founded Britannia Batteries Ltd at Union Street, Redditch.  This was on the site of the former BSA factory and the new company commenced making dry batteries and lead-acid batteries.  In the mid 1930s it also commenced production of alkaline batteries using materials from Alklum Batteries Ltd of Halifax, Yorkshire. Alklum had been formed by Worsnop & Co Ltd who were one of the first manufacturers of alkaline batteries in the UK and had commenced manufacture some time before the end of the first world war.


In 1933 The Chloride Electrical Storage Company Ltd acquired a controlling interest in Batteries Ltd and renamed it NIFE Batteries Ltd.  The purchase included the NIFE brand name for use in the British Commonwealth.  The Swedish company, Jungnor, retained the NIFE brand name for use elsewhere and used the brand name Jungnor in the British Commonwealth.


In 1936 Chloride acquired Britannia Batteries Ltd.  This gave them the Union Street premises and the Britannia and Alklum brand names.


In 1947 NIFE Batteries Ltd and Britannia Batteries Ltd were merged to form Alkaline Batteries Ltd operating from the Union Street area.


Miners lamps believed to have been made by NIFE Batteries Ltd. include the following;


Hand lamp type NG7.


Hand lamp type NH5.

            Size 70mm x 70mm square by 100mm tall. 

            60mm diameter reflector at the front with a belt clip at the back.

The hinged lid had a carrying handle and a plate that read NIFE handlamp type NH5.  NIFE Batteries Limited, Hunt End Wks. Redditch Eng.

            The lid had a lockable clasp that fitted over a lug on the reflector housing


Hand lamp type NH07.

            Charging voltage 4.2 to 5.4 volts per battery.

Charging current 1.25 amps for 8 hours.

            Specific gravity 1.16 to 1.20.


Hand lamp type NH113.

            Charging current 4.2 to 5.4 volts per battery.

            Charging current 1.75 amps for 8 hours.

            Specific gravity 1.16 to 1.20.


Cap lamp type NC 113C.

            3 cell nickel iron type battery.

            Charging voltage 4.2 to 5.4 volts per battery.

Charging current 1.75 amps for 8 hours.

Specific gravity 1.16 to 1.20


Pearson ‘NIFE’ No 12 cap lamp.

            The battery was made by NIFE Batteries Ltd.

The alkaline battery had a capacity of about 12 ampere hours and was enclosed in a welded steel case. The bakelite headpiece carried a 2.5 volt 1 amp. bulb.  The weight of the complete lamp was 7 lb.


Pearson ‘NIFE’ No 20 hand lamp.

            The battery was made by NIFE Batteries Ltd and was a nickel cadmium alkaline battery designed on the standard two-part principle. The main body of the lamp was an accurately machined drop forging and was provided with a square thread for attachment to the bottom part, and a smaller thread to take the screwed ring holding the contact and bulb assembly in position.  The contact assembly consisted of a solid ebonite moulding carrying a spring loaded contact disc underneath and a die cast bulb-holder and an enamelled conical reflector above.  The positive plates of the battery consisted of nickel hydroxide enclosed in perforated, flattened steel tubes that were interlocked together in a steel frame. The negative plates were similarly constructed so far as the mechanical details go but were filled with the cadmium active material. These plates were grouped together to make two cell halves, adjacent plates being insulated from each other by ebonite rod separators. Each group of plates was encircled with a close fitting and appropriately shaped steel sleeve. Solid steel terminals were provided and the lamp was foolproof as regards hanging in the charging rack was concerned since the positive and negative terminals were of different diameters.  Gas release valves having a rubber sleeve release were fitted and also electrolyte level indicators, the latter being of the electric circuit pattern.


Sources of information.


1.   The Chloride Electrical Storage Company Limited – History and Development, part of a report which can be accessed at;


2.   History of Alcad at


3.   Mining memorabilia website at


4.   Durham Mining Museum website at


5.   Croydon Caving Club website for care and maintenance of NIFE lamps at;


6. The New Schedule A Lamps - an article in Colliery Engineering for December 1934, a copy of which can be seen on Durham Mining Museum website at to whom I express my sincere appreciation for being able to access the article and also the article referred to at (4).

Submitted By : Alan Vickers.
Date: December 2004


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