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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.


Quote:
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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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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:06 pm 
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Great to see the old gems soldier on for a bit longer.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:04 pm 
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An absolutely superb selection of photos there David!  :D

The main thing I'm picking up from it is how ugly the nodes are making the lanterns look, especially the turtles. It isn't so noticeable in Enfield as all lanterns are Arcs, so you don't notice them after a while.

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I believe this is an old ELECO...


This is a HW747 (Golden Ray Mk VIII)

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


This is a HW932 (Golden Ray Mk X)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:34 pm 
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Thank you for all your kind comments and lantern identifications  :)

Just to confirm that the Telensa telecells that are replacing the old one-part cells with NEMA sockets are simple like-for-like swap-outs:

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Image of a "NEMA telecell" from the Telensa web site.

...and the Telensa telecells that are replacing the old two-part thermal cells (and the more slimline cells that replaced them in the same 14mm hole over the years, e.g. the Zodion cells) is a conduit telecell:

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Image of a "conduit telecell" from the Telensa web site.

The conduit telecells require the existing 14mm hole in the canopy to be drilled wider (to 20mm) to accommodate them, and this is the thing that worried me as I thought many of Colchester's elderly lanterns and/or their equally ageing brackets wouldn't cope.

Therefore it is excellent to see that the additional drilling hasn't caused any problems so far (except for the two-part celled Philips MA range), and even lanterns with known problems like Colchester's Alpha Sixes (weakness of the spine at the column end - a fault fixed on later versions not installed in Colchester) and the Alpha One (awkward to re-cell due to the shape of the shoe) seem to have been re-celled without difficulty, with the possible exception of that rather sorry-looking Alpha One at the end.

Heritage lanterns are getting the mini telecells, which hide the unit's working parts under the canopy with only the aerial exposed:

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Image of a "mini telecell" from the Telensa web site.

It could be argued that Essex County Council should have realised that this re-celling operation would have meant every lantern in the county will need to be visited once within a space of a couple of years. With such a rare opportunity like this, they could have thrown additional money at the re-celling contract and asked the crews to replace any elderly lanterns they encounter.

Having said that, once each lantern has a telecell, at least the lanterns themselves can report back to their base stations and the central computer that they have stopped working. Given the advanced age of much of Essex's lighting stock, and that such old lanterns tend to show their age by frequently developing faults, I fear that Essex central computer is going to be a busy one!


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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 12:34 am 
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Quite probably. There's a lantern up this way with a dodgy leak transformer - and over the last 2 weeks it has only worked this last Monday night and the previous Tuesday night, and then the Wednesday night before that... in that example it would report back then it had failed, but probably on the day the crews is due to attend it it will have reported back to be working!

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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 3:48 pm 
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This probably should be in the London and Southeast thread, but the Epping Forest district of Essex (which is bordered by my borough, London Borough of Redbridge) has also replaced all the photocells on its lanterns with the Telensa tele-cells.  Lanterns which have received this treatment include GEC Bricks, Z9454s and 9554s, some 1960s (possibly Eleco) lanterns, MA90s and 50s, SGS203/4s, Arcs and Iridiums. I'm going past some Z9454s, MAs and a few of the 1960s lanterns tonight, so will get some pics being as it'll still be daylight now when I go past there.

As promised, the pics:

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:43 pm 
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Thought I'd get the East Anglia gallery started with 3 photos I took from a lovely little place just outside the village of Little Baddow near Chelmsford called Paper Mill Lock:

Lovely little mercury lantern - no idea what it is

The mooring point is lit by a single GEC Z9538 on a hockeystick

The navigation path by the tea room is lit with another Z9538, this time mounted on a telegraph pole. Very rustic indeed!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:51 pm 
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Your first link/lantern is actually by Coughtrie and is a domestic rather than street lantern. We have discussed this specific lantern before on the forums although I can't remember where.  :?


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