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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 10:40 pm 
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It was fabulous to welcome Phosco152 to my corner of Essex last weekend and to spend an afternoon looking at old street lights (many of which I couldn't identify, but Phosco thankfully could), and I can't believe how fast Phosco created his excellent Essex gallery!

We did really well and got to see most of the more unusual stuff in and around Colchester before it got too dark. I have added some of the other stuff we got to see, and some of the stuff we didn't quite get around to seeing, to this post.

Funnily enough, that Alpha One with the broken opticell still works to this day, even though its opticell has been broken since September (I have the photos to prove it!). I did, of course, report it to my contact all that time ago, but while it is still in light there's not much chance of it being picked up by the night spotters.

As for Colchester's Alpha Ones, this might be the year the town loses a great deal of its stock...

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Essex University's population of seventeen Alpha Ones, all on Boundary Road, will surely go when a new Science Park is built on the University's grounds (this photo taken September 2008).

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And Phosco152 also saw the impending destruction to this stretch of seven Alpha Ones on his visit last weekend, when the replacement columns were already in place for a road widening scheme (this photo taken July 2007).

This week the lanterns went on, which I guess are SON lanterns (I can't imagine the council insisting on MH when SON is seen as the way forward). However, I don't recognise the new lanterns, which suggests the replacement isn't being done by the local authority, or my contact.

Added together, the two new developments will wipe out 24 Alpha Ones - almost a third of Colchester's surviving Alpha One population.

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And we still lose a few every now and then thanks to other circumstances :-( (photo taken October 2009).

Nearby Clacton on Sea has just eight Alpha Ones left (Indust had the ninth!), including the early Atlas Alpha One in Phosco's Essex Gallery, which is the only one left in Clacton. Clacton also boasts an Alpha One with a rather unusual, and possibly quite rare opticell...

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Again I have only spotted this one example, but this opticell has the words 'ATLAS OPTICELL' etched into the bottom corner. Has anyone else seen this before, or even aware that Atlas did this to some of their opticells? (photo taken December 2008).

Phosco and I also passed this old cast iron column, which also came from local firm Lewellen's, although sadly sporting a Thorn Beta Five casual replacement (photo taken November 2008)...

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The column looked even worse when Phosco and I passed it last weekend. The swan-neck had vanished and a post-top Phosco P567 had been put on the column. It looked such a sorry mess that I may have to return and get a photo of it.

On our Clacton drive, we passed scores of Concrete Utilities 'Utility Major' columns with GEC Z5641s and GEC Z5671s. I wonder whether the round shape of this column makes them impossible to sleeve, and hence the complete absence of sleeving of side road columns in Clacton on Sea. This is in stark contrast to nearby Colchester, where every side road (and main road) concrete column, apart from one or two, has been sleeved. I guess the decision to use the Utility Major in Clacton all those years ago has helped to preserve so much of Clacton's mercury stock well into the 21st century!

Most of Clacton's concrete columns have a definite green colour cast, which I hadn't noticed until Phosco pointed this out. With just a little more time, we would have also hunted out this column...

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This is the last Concrete Utilities 'Utility Major' column with a concrete bracket on it. (photo taken December 2008).

The town used to have many of these in the days when the GEC Z5641 was seen as adequate for residential streets, but the slightly more important roads like the distributors needed a little extra help, and got side-entry Concrete Utilities 'Utility Major' columns with GEC Z9480s instead. This column originally had a GEC Z9480 on it.

Also on the itinery for our drive was Clacton Town Centre's relighting scheme. The town centre's GEC Z8430CMs, mounted in a staggered arrangement on Concrete Utilities 'Avenue 3DNN' columns  were culled a few years back in favour of new gawdawful metal halide lanterns mounted in an opposite arrangement...

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I complained to Phosco that the new 'opposite' lighting arrangement makes the roads look like a very long Zebra crossing! (photo taken December 2008).

Furthermore, the council didn't have enough money to replace the town centre's entire stock of GEC Z8430CMs, and only the important roads in the middle (the busiest shopping streets) got the new lanterns. As a result, there is now a significant 'doughnut ring' of SON-running GEC Z8430CMs between the new gawdawful metal halide lanterns in the town centre and the SOX lighting of the suburbs!

Phosco and I also passed by a car dealership (former petrol garage) with early Atlas Alpha Threes on them (with two bowl clips on each side instead of one) still running mercury and still in good working order. But another former petrol garage in nearby Colchester has these (sadly not working) lanterns...

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They look like a highly unusual, or extremely old, version of the Alpha Three. The bowl looks like it's been riveted to the canopy and the whole thing detaches from the shoe! (photo taken November 2008).

On the subject of Turtles, Clacton Railway Station still had, up until quite recently, a great number of mercury-running GEC Z8526s lighting its works, sidings and car parks. Many are still there although some have been replaced. Sadly by the time we had finished in Clacton, it was too dark to get to Colchester Clacton Railway Station to photograph their as-yet-unspoilt installation of mercury-running GEC Z8526s and GEC Z8536s.

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Colchester Railway Station's mercury-running GEC Z8536s (photo taken February 2010).

As for more modern lanterns, I guess I am used to seeing SGS203s used as side road lanterns (instead of the more intuitive SGS201), so it was a surprise to me when Phosco152 said this was not usual practice.

Yes, the Iridium is beginning to show up in Colchester and Clacton now, but thankfully not in the sheer weight of numbers that horrify some of you guys. Unless Essex is subject to PFI in the near future (let's hope not!), the Iridium will only ever be used for minor relighting shemes and casual replacements. This has been the case for all of Colchester and Clacton's favoured lanterns over the past 50 years, and this practice has led to the rich variety of lanterns that both towns have today.

And a big thank you to Phosco152 for adding so many of them to his Essex photo gallery!


Last edited by David on Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:16 am 
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That unusual "alpha 3" lantern will likely be an Atlas Alpha 3 or Alpha 30...

If there are any alpha 1's coming down, can I be cheeky and put my name down for one? :P

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:50 am 
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That Alpha 3 is an original style Atlas Alpha 3, produced from the late 1950s to the early 1960s.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:38 pm 
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Pity about the part removal of the GEC Z8430CMs in central Clacton, these are becoming a near extinct species!

These used to be common as muck throughout Poole in the 60's
before the GEC Z8426/8526 and Thorn Alpha 3 showed up in the 70's then the MRL6 (GEC Z8600) and Thorn Alpha 8 in the 80's then the Alpha 2000 in the 90's.

A fair bit of roads still had these before all were replaced by new steel columns with post-top QSMs about 2 years ago.

Now only 2 main roads in Poole still got Z8430CMs although on sleeved brackets, which could be why these still survive for now, however I don't think it will be that long before more new QSMs appear there...


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:20 pm 
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He he, I remember the days when the GEC Z8430CM was the most modern non-turtle 'SON' lantern on the market, and was used for casual replacements for the Revo Horizons in Frinton High Street! Then in the mid-eighties, the GEC Z8600 put in its first appearance in that street, again as a casual replacement for a Revo Horizon, and having never seen them before, I really rather liked them and thought they looked really modern.

When Phosco152 came to visit last month, we went to Frinton to check those Revo Horizons, and a great deal of them are still there to this day. The sea-front end of the High Street is almost all Revo Horizons, with an unspoilt line of five lanterns (the dense foliage prevented a good photo opportunity).

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This Revo Horizon was saved from Frinton.

A funny thing happened on the Monday after Phosco's visit. Outside my house, the new, unpainted corus pole sporting a 50w SGS203 (installed in 2007 to replace this GEC Z9480), was painted black to match the other columns in Colchester town centre's Dutch Quarter, but it looked like the crew hadn't done a proper job...

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Colchester town centre's Dutch Quarter dates from the Tudor period and is one of the town's greatest architectural and tourist assets. Accordingly, the council generally takes more care with the appearance of the street lighting here than in the suburbs. Bearing that in mind, this paint job looked particularly clumsy!

Generally speaking, the suburbs usually get Thorn Rigas and Phosco P567s (although there's still plenty of historic lighting installations to be found in the suburbs of course!), whereas the Dutch Quarter usually gets 70w SON Phosco P111s. These replace 35w SOX Phosco P111s installed in the 1960s, or 1960s 35w SOX GEC Z9480s along the Conservation Area's perimeter roads (including mine). So you can imagine my disappointment in 2007 when my street lost its GEC Z9480s, but missed out on the pretty P111s for the second time.

I wondered whether, sometime in the future, the council would ever change its mind, chop the bend off the hockey-stick outside my house (and the other ones along my street) and put on P111s. But I concluded that would be too much hassle for them to do.

Last week's incomplete paint job raised my suspicions that something like this was about to happen.

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And there we have it! This happened sometime this morning. It must have been fairly early because I slept through it! This is a really good example of the council taking care of the appearance of its street lighting, and in line with all the other fairly new stuff that gets taken down in Colchester, I'm sure the SGS203 won't be scrapped and will be installed elsewhere.

Although I haven't had a proper look at my new lantern from outside, the P111s aren't without their faults (or more correctly, the installation of the P111s isn't without fault). For some unknown reason, their Micro Stars are mounted on the underside of the post-top shoe and point to the ground. It's therefore no surprise that some P111s around here strike as early as 2PM! The older P111s have no such problem, with their canopy-mounted 2 part cells.

The crew's answer to this early-burning was to face the Micro Star on all future installations at the road (in an attempt to stop the Micro Star being further darkened by nearby buildings). This then knocks out the orientation of the bulb and side reflectors, with some lanterns now installed with the side reflectors parallel to the road instead of perpendicular. This has the effect of throwing light across the road instead of along it, so that plenty of light ends up going through the nearest bedroom window, but very little is thrown along the street where it's needed. Phosco152 saw the effect when we drove up a street with recently-installed P111s with just our sidelights on. It looked like the street hadn't been lit at all!

Again, the answer is very simple - rotate the lantern so that the bulb and reflectors are in the right orientation and light goes along the street instead of across it, and install a better photocell. But there is one more, rather simpler solution to the problem of light spilling into nearby bedrooms, and I can now understand why the crew needed to use as little paint as possible when painting the columns along my street. In the last week, the number of new P111s with half-blackened cones has almost doubled!

I just hope that the one outside my window doesn't suffer the same ham-fisted method of light control!


Last edited by David on Mon Oct 09, 2017 2:09 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:58 pm 
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Honestly, sometimes I wonder if lighting would be better if it was installed by us "enthusiasts" - well of course it would!

Why on earth do they not simply fit a minicell to the canopy? Failing that can the canopy/reflector assembly not be rotated independently of the base to ensure the Micro Star is facing the road yet the reflector is the right way round?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:39 pm 
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Phosco152 wrote:
Honestly, sometimes I wonder if lighting would be better if it was installed by us "enthusiasts" - well of course it would!


Haha - An enthusiast could have a county each!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:49 pm 
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I'll tell you why I think the minicell isn't fitted to the canopy... because the gear is visible in the base of the lantern, having a minicell in the canopy would mean three more wires going up the spines of the lantern. If you have an opaque bowl like on a GEC Z5670 series then the three extra wires don't stand out, but on a clear bowled lantern having a blue brown and white wire will be clearly seen.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:29 pm 
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The amount of fun one could have with some bright, focused light source directed onto them cells at night.... :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:49 am 
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My bike light would do the trick!
On a related note, I found where the photocell controller is for the low-level Thorn Orus lights are over the bridge in York - a feeder pillar by the road. All I have to do is stop there and dump my rucksack on the top of the pillar and the lights should come on!

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