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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:09 am 
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To my astonishment, something street-lighting related is happening in Essex!

Some of you may be able to cast your mind back to this photo from 2008, which was originally posted on UKASTLE II. It shows one end of the short section of A120 dual carriageway that links both sides of the A12 together at Junction 25. It is arguably famous in street lighting circles as the dual carriageway, the roundabouts at each end, one of the slip roads onto the A12 and the road running parallel to the dual carriageway still have ten Alpha Sixes lighting them (three on the dual carriageway, one on each roundabout, three on the London-bound slip road onto the A12 and two on the parallel road). That figure excludes those that have snapped at the spine.

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One end of the short section of A120 dual carriageway that links both sides of the A12 together at Junction 25. Photograph taken in 2008. The first lantern on the left (which has turned on its spigot) is an Alpha Six, the lantern on the right at the back of the picture (on the parallel road) is also an Alpha Six and the two brackets with missing lanterns are Alpha Sixes with snapped spines.

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The same scene yesterday (22nd March 2012). I thought it would never happen, but the Highways Agency are replacing the sleeved concrete columns, which seem to have stood there for an eternity. Even the double bracket that was missing its Alpha Six for at least four years (it previously lit the A12 northbound on-slip) is now back in light.

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A quick look at the other end of the short section of dual carriageway reveals that the previous eclectic mix of Alpha Fours, Alpha Sixes, GEC Z9554s, GR150s and remote-geared MA50s on sleeved concrete columns have now been swept away and replaced with new Philips SRS201s on gleaming new Stainton columns. By coincidence, I think the old columns are Stanton & Staveleys (I'll assume Stainton isn't a mis-spelling of Stanton, and the two companies are seperate entities).

It looks like the Highways Agency have once again missed an opportunity to trial the latest new technology that the street lighting industry could offer Essex in 2012, e.g. High Pressure Sodium, as well as the chance to install some new, up-to-date lanterns like the Philips SGS203 :lol:

But I am possibly being unfair, as the recently-installed pedestrian crossing point across the dual carriageway is lit by SON lanterns, in line with the possibly threatened Essex policy of sticking to SOX, and using SON to boost light levels only where light levels need to be boosted.

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The same scene depicted in the first two images, but photographed from the other side of the bridge over the A12 and showing the on-slip which was missing its Alpha Six for four years.

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Although I can never remember the columns in this location being unsleeved (i.e. they've probably been sleeved since the late 1970s), a quick peek in the bushes between the two forked roads reveal this broken concrete double bracket.

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These six columns, which are on the bridge over the A12, may take a little longer to replace as they are affixed to the bridge with steel flange plates. Their replacement is likely to involve a night closure (or several) of the A12 underneath.

Thankfully one of the columns (the furthest column on the right hand side) has an Alpha Six on it, so if the Alpha Sixes on the roundabouts and the Alpha Sixes on the southbound on-slip follow their dual carriageway counterparts into the history books, at least one may survive!

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The A12 southbound on-slip has three Alpha Sixes. Two of them are the first and fourth lanterns in this photo from 2008.

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How the slip road looks in 2012...for the time being at least. One GR150 on a sleeved concrete column has given way to an SGS203 on an octagonal column. It didn't take long for the road's centre line to wear out!

Although the Highways Agency work will see the total loss of eight Alpha Sixes, there is at least one Alpha Six on a road that will escape the cull. The road in question is the parallel road to the A120 dual carriageway, which is unclassified...

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Here's how the Alpha Six on column two looked in 2008

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Fast forward to yesterday and it's still hanging on, albeit having gathered a little more moss in the last four years! The tree is a little taller and the telegraph pole has lost its weather coating.

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And it's even been recently re-lamped, judging by the grubby fingerprints on the bowl!

The current state of the works is: The A120 dual carriageway is now fully re-lit with SRS201s on new columns (unless any concrete columns had been removed in previous years), but that's with the exception of the bridge columns on the steel flange plates which will be more difficult to replace. Both roundabouts have been partially re-lit with SRS201s on new columns, and having seen what's happened to the dual carriageway I'm sure any remaining concrete columns on the roundabouts (including the two with Alpha Sixes on them) will go also, along with any remaining concrete columns on the slip roads on and off the A12 (including the three with Alpha Sixes on them).

Once the Highways Agency have finished their works, there will be one Alpha Six near the A12 Junction 25 (the one pictured above, the other one on the non-Highways Agency road snapped in November 2009 - see post #1), two Alpha Sixes on or near Junction 26 of the A12 (one on the slip road, one on the short section of dual carriageway to the north of that Junction, and three Alpha Sixes on or near the roundabout at the end of the short spur road at Junction 27. That will be just six Alpha Sixes left in Colchester.

The Alpha Six on the A12 slip road at Junction 26 will be the very last Alpha Six belonging to the Highways Agency!


Last edited by David on Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:57 am 
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If there are any 6's due to come down under the work it'd be great to see them saved! (Stelmer and Claire have had success saving lanterns removed by the HA)
It'd be a shame to see them all scrapped.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:15 am 
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Amazing to see brand new MA50s being installed!  :)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:41 am 
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mazeteam wrote:
If there are any 6's due to come down under the work it'd be great to see them saved! (Stelmer and Claire have had success saving lanterns removed by the HA)
It'd be a shame to see them all scrapped.

I'm afraid it's a different story with the Highways Agency as I don't know anybody there and don't even know who their contractor is! I believe the work is being done in the dead of the night as, apart from one or two large cones next to some of the remaining concrete columns, there is little evidence in daytime hours of any ongoing work.

I did see one of the old concretes on one of the roundabouts being taken down while driving home in the early hours of the morning (from possibly Scotland or Wales) back in January, but it was just the one column being replaced and there was no evidence at the time that other works were being planned for this month (else I would've stopped and tried my luck. After all, that's how I met my first contact!).

Two Alpha Sixes have already gone (off the dual carriageway) and six are due to go: the one that's left on the dual carriageway (on the steel flange plate), one on each roundabout (two in total) and three more on the southbound on-slip.

Phosco152 wrote:
Amazing to see brand new MA50s being installed!  :)

In Essex they never went out of fashion!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:08 pm 
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Not strictly East Anglia, but Eastern England...

Lincolnshire retains a surprising amount of SOX lighting. Around Lincoln itself, SOX lighting reigns supreme in residential areas with very little SON - mostly ZX1s if SON lighting is used. The most recent lighting or casuals are Residiums running CFL.

Main road wise, installations over 20 years old still tend to be SOX unless in town centres where various SON lanterns have been retrofitted. For installations newer than 20 years, they are SON.

I spotted a few relics from yesteryear as well.

Wall mounted GEC Z9480.

Another Z9480 on a Stanton 10 concrete column.

GEC Z9481 on top entry bracket and Stanton CS1805 column.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:50 pm 
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I have today found out some more information about Colchester's lighting - in particular the cast iron columns.

In the conservation area, Roman Road and Castle Road use cast iron columns like these.

When the lighting was locally maintained in the past, the city had a wooden casting former which was supplied to various local foundries (I guess based on price) for the foundries to cast up a batch of columns. The foundry would often put their name on the side - a bit like this from Hampshire.

David maybe able to confirm - if there are enough surviving columns - if the names are all the same.

Over the years a stock of removed columns from upgrades were saved to replace accident damaged ones in the conservation area of Colchester.

Unfortunately when the lighting maintenance transferred to Essex County Council, the stock of used columns was "lost" as was the original wooden former. This has now meant that a recent replacement due to accident damage has used a modern column.

Hopefully David will be able to provide more info.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:45 am 
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Thank you Phosco152 for such an informative post about the Colchester casties. I can confirm that most of the roads built before the 1960s in Colchester still have their cast iron posts, although they are disappearing at a rate of knots (thankfully casual replacements only when needed for the time being, not through any PFI or other relighting scheme).

In 2001, a professor at the University of Essex called Ken Rickwood wrote a book about the history of Colchester's street lighting called Lighting Up Colchester, and for his research he tracked down and photographed a surviving post from all of the seven Colchester foundries that used to cast Colchester's lamp posts:-

• Bennell;
• F. W. Brackett & Co;
• Schlimper;
• Truslove & Co (which used to have its foundry in my road from 1921 to 1958);
• A.C. Mumford;
• Catchpool & Co, and
• Stanford & Co.

Sadly, Ken didn't note in his book which roads or areas in the town were lit by which company's posts, so one fine day, I'd like to walk or cycle all the roads in Colchester that are still lit with cast iron posts, and hope to track down and photograph an example from each foundry once again!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:03 pm 
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Part-night lighting in Essex: historic Colchester gets ready

On its sign boards, Colchester claims to be Britain's Oldest Recorded Town. Its street lighting cannot be far behind, with scores of nineteenth-century gas columns still in nightly use around the town, although they are all now converted to up-to-date light sources, like low-pressure sodium.

Essex was originally on course for a street lighting PFI, which would have seen virtually all of its historic lighting stock destroyed, but (thankfully) a change of government in 2010 scuppered that. Subsequently Essex looked at other ways of reducing the cost of running its lighting stock, and eventually settled on radio-controlled part-night lighting.

This is the biggest change to Essex's street lighting since time clocks were phased out in favour of thermal photocells in the 1980s. Colchester is currently undergoing preparation for part-night lighting, which involves the replacement of two-part and one-part photocells with Telensa telecells, which are remotely controlled from base stations installed on a small number of street lighting columns across the town.

Here are some pictures to show how work is progressing (warning: long post!). All photographs were taken this month (April 2013).

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Firstly, a look at Colchester town centre. The town still retains a number of Stewart & Lloyds columns, although the open GLS lanterns they first supported are long gone. Here, these Philips SGS203s (quite modern by Colchester standards) have been fitted with Telensa telecells.

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But these Alpha Threes, on a different style of Stewart & Lloyds columns (these ones originally held fluorescent lanterns) also got telecells.

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And the Alpha Three on this (quite possibly the most puzzling) column in the town centre also got a telecell.

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Wall-mounted Alpha Threes didn't escape, although the original thermal cell on the control box stays in place (despite disconnection) to keep the electrics dry.

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This good-condition geared GEC Z8536 in the High Street also received a telecell...

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...alongside remote-geared GEC Z8526's in Middleborough.

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In Colchester High Street, this three-armed teardrop lantern opposite the war memorial received more sympathetic treatment, with a more expensive type of telecell which hides the unit's workings inside the canopy. Only the aerials are visible from the outside.

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Another 'teardrop' casual replacement at the other end of the High Street has received a standard telecell in error.

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Many of the town centre's gas columns still remain in service, although they now use electricity instead. The addition of a telecell is the latest in a long line of changes this old gas column has seen.

Now a look at the Colchester suburbs...

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This copper-topped GEC Z9481 now accommodates a telecell.

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I believe this is an old ELECO...

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...and this is an old ELECO too. Both are now sporting new telecells.

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In some instances, some lanterns retain their thermal cell if the telecell (large by comparison to the thermal cell) won't fit in the same location, as on this old GEC.

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A black-painted GEC Z9481 on another of the town's converted gas column has got a new telecell.

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And congratulations should be offered to the re-celling contractors for successfully converting the town's Thorn Alpha Ones. Of all the town's lanterns, I thought these would be the biggest struggle to convert.

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An unusual arrangement, but easy to re-cell.

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Harder to convert were Philips MA90s with thermal cells due to the thickness of the metal part of the canopy (the drill hole for the thermal cell needs to be widened to accommodate the telecell). On two-part MA90s, the fibreglass canopy has been drilled instead.

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One of a handful of the town's old tram traction poles which were converted to street lamps when the trams stopped running. These columns date back over 100 years.

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This deep-bowled GEC Z9554 next to East Gates level crossing has been converted to radio control, although is still runs a 90W SOX bulb at a mounting height of 10 metres, which is a bit of a puzzle.

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This old ELECO in East Street can now live on a little longer...

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...alongside this similar ELECO with a W-shaped bowl in Magdalen Street.

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And even the town's equally ancient Alpha Sixes got drilled for telecells! This one is on the Prince Of Wales roundabout.

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Slightly further afield in Eight Ash Green, and the A1124's Thorn Alpha Sixes (admittedly only two left now) were also drilled to accommodate telecells...

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...alongside these GEC Z9554Ms.

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The second of the two Alpha Sixes on the A1124, which sadly has a holed bowl.

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A line of Thorn Alpha Nines soldier on with new telecells...

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Although the Alpha Nine attached to this base station won't need a telecell for obvious reasons.

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A scrollwork column in leafy Lexden lives on for a little longer thanks to the addition of a telecell.

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This Phosco P157 has been successfully drilled...

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...as were these Phosco P125s...

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...and these Phosco P107s.

Back into the town centre, and a look at my neighbourhood the Dutch Quarter. The lighting is a little different here as the area is a tourist attraction.

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The Dutch Quarter's original Phosco P110s, which were installed when the area was converted from gas to electricity in either the late 1950s or the early 1960s, have received the more sympathetic telecell with only the aerial visible.

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The Phosco P110's current casual replacement - the SON-running Phosco P111, also sports the more sympathetic telecell, although in black.

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There may be quite a wait until this P110 in the Dutch Quarter is re-celled.

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Some of the old P110s in the Dutch Quarter weren't replaced with the correct lantern, although this is a close enough match.

One thing that has happened since re-celling started is that the number of day-burners has gone up, which I assume are teething problems with the system:

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For example this GEC Z9454...

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...and this GEC Z9455 on a rather unusual 'uptilt' bracket...

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...and this ELECO GR150...

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and another GEC on a rhythmatic control box in the town centre.

And finally some lanterns which are now equipped for part-night lighting, but unlikely to still be in service when the big change comes...

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A rather sorry-looking Phosco in Sheepen Place.

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And I fear this poor old Alpha One won't be around for much longer either.

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This re-celled GEC Z9454 only needs a new bowl but, in the absence of one of those, is likely to be replaced instead.

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Meanwhile, this SGS203 is in danger of dropping off...

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...and a similar column which has already lost its lantern. The black Iridium replacement is the first in the town.

I am unsure when part-night lighting is due to begin in Colchester, but the installation of the telecells in the town is about half-way done.

For Essex, it will be a return to the part-night lighting of the past, which disappeared when the time clocks were replaced with thermal cells in the 1980s.


Last edited by David on Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:05 am 
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Some fantastic photos there, especially the line of Alpha 9s.

David wrote:
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There may be quite a wait until this P110 in the Dutch Quarter is re-celled.

That dove seems to be rather precariously balanced!
I like the fabulously simple wall bracket for that - chop up an old hockey stick column and weld the curve to a wall plate and job done!
Being pedantic, technically this is still a P111 but an older version - the P110 was a 55W SOX version of the much larger P109.


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This re-celled GEC Z9454 only needs a new bowl but, in the absence of one of those, is likely to be replaced instead.

Hmmm, this is the harder to find top entry variant. I have at least one spare bowl for this type of lantern, if anybody wants the lantern when it gets replaced.

It'll be interesting to see if the cells get removed when lanterns are decommissioned, or whether any that get offered to us lot still have the cells fitted. These cells look like the type which fit into a standard NEMA base, hence the appearance of that Gamma 6 - and why the types fitted to heritage lanterns just have the aerial sticking out, as they'll go through a 20mm hole similar to a minicell.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:59 am 
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What a fantastic post David! Great to see it documented. What is happening in Essex is fascinating, seeing even the oldest and rarest of lanterns updated with radio frequency control. The contrasts are staggering, and it is just the sort of unusual thing that makes people like us interested in street lighting. Having said that, it does look a bit horrible seeing the way those RF nodes have been fitted to some of those lanterns, but at the end of the day it's unusual and interesting, and the old lanterns are soldiering on.


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