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The 65-year-old light bulb that outlived Woolworths (and survived the Blitz)

Posted on 5:19 PM by Sameer Shah

It defied the Luftwaffe during the Blitz - not to mention Britain’s own air-raid wardens when it was left on during the blackout.

Now this light bulb is about to outlive Woolworths, the shop where it was bought more than 65 years ago for one old penny.

The 40-watt wonder, which still works, now has pride of place in a china cabinet at the home of Valerie Beaney, 68, whose late mother Rose Allen bought it in 1943.



It saw out the dark days of the Second World War - even though the house it illuminated, where Rose lived with Valerie and her husband Jack in Walthamstow, East London, was bombed by the Germans.

During the blackout, Mr Allen was fined by air-raid wardens for leaving his lights on, so he painted all his light bulbs blue to makethem dimmer.

The bulb lit the bedroom where Mrs Beaney’s younger sister Elaine, now 66, was born.

And it was one of those that the family took with them when they were evacuated to Pluckley, near Ashford in Kent, following the Walthamstow air raid.

After being invalided out of the Royal Artillery, Jack Allen became a postman.

When he died at the age of 86 ten years ago, his widow Rose moved to a flat at Headcorn in Kent.

The light bulb went with her - still bearing traces of the blue paint Jack had put on it all those years earlier - and was used in her spare bedroom.


When Rose died three yearsago, aged 92, daughter Valerie, who lives nearby, decided to preserve the light bulb that has outlived Woolies.

She wrote to Woolworths, whose customer relations department told her they were ‘amazed’ the bulb had lasted so long.

Valerie said: ‘It’s a great shame that the light is going out on Woolies. You could buy most of what you wanted there at reasonable prices and our children lovedit, too.

‘The bulb my mother bought all those years ago still lights up, although I am very careful not to drop it on the rare occasions that I show it to people.

‘The bulb survived the blackout and the Blitz and several moves by our family, and was burning when my sister was born in the Second World War.

‘Although I am very sad to see Woolworths go, at least the wonder of Woolies shines on through our little bulb.’

Woolworths will close its first shops next Saturday.

The remainder are expected to shut in January with the loss of the jobs of all 27,000 permanent and temporary staff if no last-minute buyer can be found by the troubled company’s administrators.

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