TODAY I take my final look into a fascinating collection of newspaper cuttings, almost all from the Telegraph, collated many years ago by the late Bob Kerr, who had been Lighting Superintendent with Greenock Corporation.

The cuttings include coverage of a period when the corporation went from hero to almost zero in the eyes of many citizens.

In 1920 the corporation introduced a new system of street and stairhead lighting.

It was highly praised and many believed Greenock was one of the best, if not the best, illuminated towns in Scotland.

The system attracted visitors from other local authorities keen to improve their lighting. For example, in 1923 a deputation from Lanark County Council was most impressed after being driven round the town.

However, by 1927 the Telegraph was carrying critical articles in response to the corporation having reduced or restricted the lighting system on the grounds of saving money. It was also the start of many readers’ letters under the ‘Public lighting scandal’ banner, but the row was to continue for a couple of years.

On 20 November 1929 the Telegraph reported that a serious complaint had been made to the corporation by Councillor Mrs McLeod.

She said the lighting and condition of streets in the east end was so bad that children waited in crowds at the foot of Sinclair Street for some grown-up person to come along before they would venture to their homes.

Mrs McLeod maintained that the children were afraid to go along some of the streets, and walked behind men and women who were going in their direction. The corporation’s annual inspection of street lighting took place on 25 November.

That very day a letter to the editor in the Telegraph stated: “I am very much interested in your leading article regarding the badly lit streets of Greenock.

“Some time ago we got the name of being the best lit town, now, I am sorry to say, we are far behind in that respect.

“Seeing we are having an inspection of street lighting tonight, the committee might do worse than have a look at East William Street, where a lamp there, and the only lamp in this street, has not been lit to my own personal knowledge for the last two years, for what reason I am at a loss to understand.” The inspection led to the corporation agreeing to improve street lighting.