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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 1:01 pm 
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Some unexpected news from the greensward on Clacton sea front, which until a few days ago was the home of about 1.5 miles' worth of ultra-rare top-entry GEC Z8430CMs (please correct me if the top entry version had a different code). The lanterns have been removed as the cast iron decorative brackets they are installed on pose a risk to public health:

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Daily Gazette, 24th December 2014

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The appropriately-named Revo Clactons (as detailed on Simon Cornwell's web site) have been a feature of the clifftop path at Clacton sea front for around 80 years, and were available in two-arm and three-arm variants. The clifftop path saw only the two-arm variant installed. Photograph taken in August 2013.

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According to Mikey Ashworth's Flickr site, the Revo Clactons originally held Revo C6200 lanterns, but these gave way to the top-entry GEC Z8430CMs in the 1960s. This close-up photo, also from August 2013, reveals the poor condition of the installation's decorative brackets after many years of exposure to the coastal elements.

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Early postcards show three-arm Revo Clactons with Revo C6200 lanterns installed in the town centre. This postcard published by M. & L. of Clacton is not dated.

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Later postcards show the time when new technology was beginning to threaten the survival of the Revo C6200 lanterns. This postcard, by Ernest Joyce & Co. and posted on 1st July 1964, shows the lanterns missing their distinctive bowls. The postcard also shows a side-entry GEC Z8430CM on a newly-installed cast iron column in the background.

The Revo C6200s in this postcard also outlived an installation of fluorescent three-eighties, which predated the introduction of GEC Z8430CMs in the town centre.

Shortly after the photograph for the above postcard was taken, this junction in the town centre was re-lit and the Revo Clacton and Revo C6200s were replaced with a Concrete Utilities Avenue 3DNN concrete column with a side-entry GEC Z8430CM. At this time (the mid-1960s), all the town centre's Z8430CMs were running mercury.

Although the newspaper report states that the lighting on the sea front hasn't worked for at least 15 years, my memory cannot confirm this. This length of time came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I would have imagined the council (Tendring District Council in this case, not Essex County Council) would have kept them in light due to the greensward being up to 30m wide in some places, meaning the lighting on the adjacent road along the sea front would not stretch far enough to light the popular and well-used clifftop path.

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Thankfully a dig around in my own photo archive revealed this photograph of the clifftop path in January 1995. The Revo Clactons and top-entry GEC Z8430CMs are shown in light. As the lanterns had always ran mercury, I think the rogue SON lamp persuaded me to stop and take this photograph.

With the exception of the rogue SON lamp, this is how Clacton's clifftop path should be lit! For Clacton's sake, I do hope we'll see this sight again one day, but I concede that the mercury lighting won't be returning. A suitable while-light alternative would be fine.

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Clacton used to have an extensive installation of both top-entry and side-entry GEC Z8430CMs throughout the town centre and stretching along the sea front from Butlins to the west to Holland-on-Sea to the east. This D. Constance Ltd. postcard posted in August 1970 shows King's Parade, which runs the length of the sea front at Holland-on-Sea. Top-entry GEC Z8430CMs are shown installed on distinctively green Concrete Utilities Avenue 3DNN concrete columns.

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Concrete Utilities Avenue 3D concrete columns, again with top-entry GEC Z8430CMs were installed at the other end of town next to Butlins. This Sapphire postcard was posted in August 1973.

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In the 1960s, the local council invested heavily in the GEC Z8430CM when it re-lit the town centre and the sea front road, but the Z8430CMs have suffered two big culls since then. The first cull was in the 1970s when the oil crisis meant many of the lanterns on the sea front road were replaced with Thorn Alpha Nines, ELECO GR100s and ELECO GR110s. This undated D. Constance Ltd. postcard shows the same location as the previous postcard, but the Z8430CMs have been replaced with GR110s on the original columns, and GR100s on casual replacements. With the exception of the clifftop path, the retained Z8430CMs were converted to SON.

The second cull happened in 2006 and 2007 when the town centre was regenerated. As part of the works, the town centre was re-lit with the DW Windsor Rio running metal halide.

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Thankfully, the town centre re-lighting work in 2006/2007 wasn't as extensive as the re-lighting of the town centre in the 1960s, and there is now a significant "doughnut ring" of SON-running surviving Z8430CMs surrounding the town centre. These are still going strong and have been converted to run on Essex County Council's Central Management System with the addition of a Telensa telecell. This photograph was taken in October 2013.

Coincidentally, many of the town's holiday parks also installed Z8430CMs on 8m Concrete Utilities Avenue 3DNN and 10m New Highway columns in the 1960s. Thankfully, many of these survive, and there is a particularly good example of the former still going strong in nearby Walton-on-the-Naze (from zedfive's Flickr site).


Last edited by David on Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:46 pm 
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Fabulous post David and sad news about their demise. I take it there must have been a few near-misses for this 'reactive' measure to have taken place e.g. one of the brackets falling off onto the ground?

I hope that your January 1995 photograph makes its way into a future POTS competition.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:55 pm 
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One thing I can't help question is why they weren't in service. Were they switched off to discourage people from walking somewhere where mugging was an issue, or switched off due to wiring being unsafe, or simply not maintained due to lack of funds? One thing is for certain, if street lighting is not kept in service it deteriorates far more rapidly, much like comparing a car used daily with a car that has been garaged for a year. The lack of attention in recent years will have contributed to the structural problems.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:10 am 
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Yet another load of absolute tosh in the name of "elf and safety". The council have (mandatory) civil liability insurance to cover any injury to the public from failures of their own infrastructure, yet they still spout on about H&S.

As the pictures show, each part of the decorative metal work is held to the column in multiple places so the chances of a single piece corroding through and falling are practically non existent.

The columns are probably late Victorian yet have withstood the 1987 "hurricane" as well as all of last winter's storms without any damage.

The decorative metal work although with some flaking paint and surface corrosion, looks to be in good condition on the example photographed. Cast iron has a low corrosion propagation rate (slower than mild steel) and the level of deterioration looks to be minimal and only to be expected after decades since the last repaint.

I very much doubt that the "survey" was done at bracket level on each column - more likely photographs were taken from the ground.

Even worse is the "vandalism" in the way the metal work has been removed in sections by cutting through with an angle grinder, which is a non precision cutting tool. 2-3mm of metal will have been lost in each cut making it impossible to dimensionally accurately reassemble the parts - not that cast iron can be successfully welded back together anyway. It would have been far better to cut the entire top of the column off, removing the bracket section with a crane, so that the metal work could be repaired intact. A discrete sleeve and internal tube could then be used to reattach it at a later date.

All the council now have is a skip full of cut up sections, which probably haven't been catalouged from individual columns - so just a jumble of what is now in effect scrap.

I would like to be proved wrong, but I doubt the original metal work will now ever be repaired and refitted. More than likely replacement steel "faux heritage" brackets will be fitted with "Albany" type lanterns.

In this day and age there is really no excuse for such blatant destruction of the town's heritage.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:46 am 
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Well it's not as if councils and street lighting contractors are full of highly skilled lighting engineers who take great pride in their work like in the old days. If it's anything like the crews the PFIs tend to use, it's cheap foreign labour that just gets the job sort of done and leaves a trail of tidying up.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:10 pm 
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Alex wrote:
I take it there must have been a few near-misses for this 'reactive' measure to have taken place e.g. one of the brackets falling off onto the ground?
I must admit that I have not seen any near-misses being reported in the local newspapers. Having said that, there are two bits missing from the column I photographed last year - the finial that should top the column and a missing section of bracket on the right hand side under the last fixing point to the column. I imagine bits were missing from the other lamp posts too.

sotonsteve wrote:
One thing I can't help question is why they weren't in service. Were they switched off to discourage people from walking somewhere where mugging was an issue, or switched off due to wiring being unsafe, or simply not maintained due to lack of funds?
I'm guessing that as the columns have aged they have become more difficult to maintain and comparatively more expensive to run (especially as they were still running mercury). Furthermore, tourists who visit Clacton these days tend to be day-trippers who return home in the evening, as opposed to staying for a week or two as in Clacton's heyday, so lighting on the clifftop path is arguably not as essential as it once was.

Having said that, it was still a surprise to hear they were out-of-service, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I'm sure the columns closest to the town centre are still in service, or were in service until very recently, as a small number to the west of the pier were retrofitted with "heritage" SON lanterns when the sea front gardens were remodelled in the late 1990s.

Phosco152 wrote:
Even worse is the "vandalism" in the way the metal work has been removed in sections by cutting through with an angle grinder, which is a non precision cutting tool. 2-3mm of metal will have been lost in each cut making it impossible to dimensionally accurately reassemble the parts - not that cast iron can be successfully welded back together anyway.

All the council now have is a skip full of cut up sections, which probably haven't been catalouged from individual columns - so just a jumble of what is now in effect scrap.

In this day and age there is really no excuse for such blatant destruction of the town's heritage.
Talking of vandalism, the same council briefly became the laughing stock of the country a few months ago when it interpreted Banksy's newest mural - estimated to be worth around £400,000 - as vandalism, and promptly scrubbed it out.

Phosco152 wrote:
The columns are probably late Victorian yet have withstood the 1987 "hurricane" as well as all of last winter's storms without any damage.
One thing that was destroyed in the 1987 hurricane were the Clacton illuminations. Although never on a par with Blackpool's illuminations, or more locally Great Yarmouth's or Southend's illuminations, the giant internally-lit coloured shapes installed on many of the lamp columns along the sea front road were severely damaged by the high winds, and any that weren't brought down on that fateful night were promptly removed. Coloured festoon lighting secured to the profile of the columns soldiered on for a short while, although it wasn't the same as proper illuminations, and these were eventually replaced with rope lights spiral-wound around the columns, which frankly looked awful. Today, Clacton has no illuminations.

The newspaper report about the removal of the clifftop path's lanterns is now online.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 11:10 pm 
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Last month, David wrote:
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Thankfully a dig around in my own photo archive revealed this photograph of the clifftop path in January 1995. The Revo Clactons and top-entry GEC Z8430CMs are shown in light. As the lanterns had always ran mercury, I think the rogue SON lamp persuaded me to stop and take this photograph.
The same scene, on Clacton's East Greensward, today:
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Photograph taken 20 years later, in January 2015. All the photographs below were taken in January and February 2015.

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Clacton's West Greensward (the subject of the original newspaper report above) fares no better.

But to my great surprise, the ornate brackets and ultra-rare top-entry GEC Z8430CM lanterns on three of the historic columns have escaped the disc cutter of doom, and survive for now:

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Three of the columns located in and around the Clacton Pavilion entertainment and amusement centre, to the immediate east of Clacton Pier, retain their ornate brackets and Z8430CMs (where lanterns were still surviving in the first place).

Sadly, I think the reason they survive for now is that they are currently inaccessible to the cherry picker while the Clacton Pavilion and surrounding area undergo redevelopment for the 2015 summer season. But that shouldn't be an excuse to publish a few more photos of the remnant of a once magnificent installation:

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There is now only one unspoilt installation left (i.e. no missing lanterns and no missing bowls), and it is to the left side of Pier Gap as you approach Clacton Pier from the town centre.

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A view from underneath the one remaining complete installation.

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Another view of the three remaining installations which for now have escaped being "put into storage". Their close proximity to the Clacton Pavilion has probably saved their skin for the time being.

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A night-time view of the above scene reveals that none of the remaining mercury-running top-entry GEC Z8430CMs are in light.

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The last remaining complete installation at night.

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As described in my original post on the subject, the gardens to the immediate west of Clacton Pier were revamped many years ago, and the Z8430CMs were replaced with heritage lanterns.

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A night-time view of the above scene shows these columns in light, but running SON lanterns.

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A close up view of the heritage lanterns, which we may see used again when the recently removed brackets are refurbished and reinstalled by the local council.

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And finally, a close-up photograph of one of the column bases reveals the column's manufacturer to be Johnson and Phillips Ltd. of Charlton, London, not Revo as I originally thought.

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An advert from The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, 26 December 1890. The original image and accompanying citation are published on this web site.

Johnson and Phillips Ltd. were active from the 1870s to the 1970s, and there are pictures and postcards of Clacton indicating the columns may date from the late-Victorian era, as mentioned earlier by Phosco152. This image from this web site shows the Johnson and Phillips columns prior to the installation of the Revo Clacton brackets and Revo C6200 lanterns, which I imagine happened sometime in the 1930s.

It's sad that Clacton must surely be about to lose the last three of these magnificent installations, and this is likely to be very soon (perhaps as soon as the cherry picker gets unobstructed access to them). So anyone in the Essex or surrounding area wanting to see these ultra-rare top-entry GEC Z8430CMs for themselves ought to do it soon!


Last edited by David on Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 4:23 pm 
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Excellent pictures David and good work on tracking down more of their history. One thing that struck me as odd with the original pictures was the flat top of the bracket above the column between the 2 small decorative round finials. It doesn't quite look right.

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Then there is this picture after the brackets were removed and 2 odd struts sticking out of the columns.

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This image makes clear what has happened. There was originally a decorative copper "hat" on the column. The struts provided the support and the copper wrapped over the flat section of the bracket, no doubt held on by the round decorative finials.

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It seems over the years, the maintenance contractors have removed the copper sections - uncharitably perhaps for scrap value - or to allow easier access to the wiring from the main tube to the brackets - but they weren't replaced in the majority of cases.

So not only has the town council allowed the brackets to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance - they may have actually made matters worse by allowing removal of the copper tops - allowing rain and salt spray to enter the top of the columns allowing unnecessary corrosion internally.

Thankfully columns back then were over engineered - especially when made of cast iron. Unfortunately due to history of previous neglect, I don't hold out much hope of a sympathetic restoration or reproduction brackets being fitted.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:04 pm 
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^ Yes, that's a good point. My old photos from the 1990s (like the night-time photo with the rogue SON lamp) show the large finials in the centre, but my more recent photos - even before the recent bracket removal - show the large centre finials missing. They'd been missing so long that I forgot they had the centre finials in the first place!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:09 pm 
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In "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted" news, Essex County Council has launched a new campaign aimed at reducing adult pedestrian road deaths and injuries in the hours of darkness, in response to a rise in night-time accidents involving pedestrians in the autumn of 2014. Autumn 2014 was the first autumn since Essex County Council's part-night lighting policy went countywide, although the Councillor in charge of Essex Highways Rodney Bass instead blamed the rise in night-time accidents involving pedestrians on an "unseasonably warm autumn".

The season culminated in the death of a pedestrian in Basildon's Cranes Farm Road, which is the location of a great number of entertainment venues, restaurants, bars and nightclubs (the Festival Leisure Park). Despite the thousands of people who visit the edge-of-town Festival Leisure Park every weekend, the street lights on the road outside go off at midnight as they do in the rest of the county, but after a number of near-misses and David Charles' death, Essex County Council restored the street lights on the road to all-night lighting on a permanent basis. How on earth roads that occasionally teem with pedestrians after midnight - like the road outside Basildon's Festival Leisure Park - were never included in ECC's exception criteria in the first place, remains a mystery.

Essex County Council was voted the worst authority for street lighting in a public satisfaction poll in December 2014.

One of the billboard posters for Essex County Council's new campaign to reduce adult pedestrian road deaths and injuries at night has appeared at the end of my road:

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The Essex County Council poster at the end of St. Peter's Street, Colchester. This photograph and the following photographs were taken in January 2015.

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A view of St. Peter's Street, with ECC's new campaign poster occupying the first billboard. This photograph was taken a few minutes before midnight.

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To my knowledge, Essex County Council doesn't intentionally do irony. This photograph of St. Peter's Street was taken just after midnight. Any revellers walking home after a night out in the nearby town centre would have a real struggle being seen if they were using this road, no matter how much they heeded the advice on the poster.

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Thankfully, there are some lit routes away from the town centre that pedestrians can use, but St. Peter's Street isn't one of them.

There are now a great many campaigns in Essex to get the part-night lighting policy decision reversed, and to paraphrase the above poster, the people behind these campaigns would argue that there's "no excuse" for such poor decision-making by Essex County Council.

In December 2013, David wrote:
Although the street lighting switch-off did eventually begin in Colchester on December 1st, and the purple flag on the town hall (which signifies how safe the town is to visit at night) was lowered to half-mast in sympathy*, it turns out that parts of the Dutch Quarter, including my road (St. Peter's Street) are in fact still under review. This means that sometime in the future the lights that currently go off in my street at midnight may start staying on all night, or those that currently, and inexplicably, stay on all night may start to go off!

* This didn't actually happen, although the Council may struggle to retain its purple flag next year as a result of part-night lighting.

Below are two photos of St. Peter's Street. Puzzlingly (as hinted above) some of the street lighting in my road currently stays on whilst the rest go off, and there seems to be no pattern to it. The street lights that do stay on seem rather random and are arguably no help to Colchester Council's CCTV operators.

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Here's the view outside my home before the lights go out. My building has a 70W SONPAK-style flood light illuminating the entrance to the underground car park, the same wattage as the P111 on the pavement outside. Photograph taken in December 2013.

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And the same view after midnight. The lanterns on columns eight and nine inexplicably remain lit, with a further SONPAK-style flood light on a commercial property further up the road adding extra light. Photograph taken in December 2013.

Despite being so close to the town centre, and housing a mix of business and residential premises, and being covered by Colchester town centre's CCTV system, St. Peter's Street eventually failed ECC's exception criteria after being under review, so all lights are now out:

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The same view as above, but in January 2015. My building's SONPAK-style flood light has also failed (sadly I don't have a ladder tall enough to reach it), although the fluorescent bulkhead which illuminates the steps (which was previously not working) is now back in light.

With the random street lights that originally stayed on now being switched off, the road looks like this, although I should add that this photograph was taken on a longer exposure than the December 2013 photograph. In reality, it's a lot darker, to the point where a similarly-exposed photograph wouldn't be worth looking at.

The fluorescent glow you can see cast along the length of the road is created by an undercroft car park to an ex-office block on the opposite side. The office block is now residential, so the car park's lights stay on all night.


Last edited by David on Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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