Holmes was the inventor of the magneto-electric machine for electricity generation in lighthouses. Frederick Hale Holmes, analytical chemist and engineer, was asked to continue work originated by F Nollet (1794-1853) on lighthouse illumination. While working on magneto-electric generators Holmes found they could provide a continuous current able to produce a brilliant electric arc for lighting. This generator was one of a pair put into service at Souter Point Lighthouse in 1871, between South Shields and Sunderland, until 1900. By then dynamo makers had produced various arc lighting systems.