IT seems strange to believe but Greenock still had street and tenement gas lighting at the start of the 1960s.

The accompanying photograph appeared in the Telegraph in March 1977.

Dating to 1924, it shows the men and women whose job was to tramp up and down tenement stairs, lighting gas lamps.

Some of the ‘leeries’, as these workers were known, can be seen with the lighters they used.

It is understood the picture was taken outside the gas department’s old premises in Jamaica Street.

The picture comes from a book of newspaper cuttings, mainly from the Telegraph, which was compiled by the late Bob Kerr, who was lighting engineer for Greenock Corporation.

Mr Kerr had passed away before the Jamaica Street premises closed in the late 1970s and the lighting department transferred to East Hamilton Street.

Port Glasgow reader Hugh Scott, who worked with Mr Kerr for a time, saved the book from being thrown away during the move.

Hugh, 74, joined Port Glasgow Town Council in 1964. He was to be involved in street lighting until taking early retirement in 1999 as Scottish area manager for a major street lighting contractor. Hugh’s career included a period with the former Strathclyde Region and his duties saw him working locally and throughout other parts of Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire.

One Telegraph cutting from the book tells of the final days of street gas lighting in Greenock.

It was published in October 1961 and mentioned that street gas lamps had dropped from around 2,000 in the past 10 years to just 150 and these would be gone in the next few months.

The article appeared in the week when new electric lighting had been switched on for the first time on what was described as the long, lonely stretch of road from Peat Road to Whinhill golf course.

Standard lamps for electric lights had just been erected in Clarence Street, and in the small side streets leading to it. They were to be switched on within a month.

The next areas to be tackled were Inchgreen Street, Ladyburn Street, Pottery Street and the Esplanade.

A Corporation lighting department official said: “The only areas which we will not touch in the near future will be those where there is a possibility of new buildings going up, such as Serpentine Walk, for instance.

“But we may well decide that even in those areas, it would be better to put up temporary electric lights.

“The streets of the town should be more or less all-electric by February of next year, and as far as stairs are concerned, the only tenements in which gas lamps will remain are those where electricity is not available, or where the properties are due for demolition.” In May 1951, there were 4,510 stair gas lamps but by October 1961 the number had dropped to about 120. Over the same period the number of electric street lamps had risen from 1,073 to around 4,200.