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Domestic, industrial and street lighting

The technologies used for lighting have evolved during the time the railways have been operating. For the first seventy years all the common forms of lighting relied on a flame, practical electric lighting (other than cumbersome arc lamps) only appeared in the early twentieth century.

In industry a common piece of kit was the 'flare lamp', which was a metal pot with a long spout with a wick. The pot was filled with oil or paraffin and the light adjusted by moving the wick in and out of the spout. The flare lamp remained in widespread use into the 1950s (see also Appendix One - Roads and Road Works) and they remained in use at railway engine sheds into the 1960s.

Fig___ Flare lamps

flare lamps

The glass chimnied oil lamp (as seen in Western films) had been developed at the turn of the 19th century, it gave a steadier and brighter light than candles and tallow soaked reeds and soon caught on. Street lighting by oil lamps based on this design was quite common by the 1840's, following the Lights and Watching Act of 1832 which required councils to provide lights and watchmen on the streets at night. There was some debate regarding this act, there was a lot of thuggery and robbery on the streets but the argument that carried the day was that the anonymity of the dark streets encouraged late night drinking and debauchery. Kerosene (paraffin) became available in the later half of the nineteenth century and was a popular alternative to whale oil for the tall glass lamps. Kerosene lamps were widely used in remote locations for domestic lighting into the 1930's and for portable 'hurricane' lamps up to the 1970's.

Fig___ Paraffin lamps

Paraffin lamps from photographs

Coal gas was developed by William Murdock in the later eighteenth century and by the time the railways arrived it was in widespread use for domestic and industrial lighting although this was achieved by a simple open flame. Gas street lights were first used in London in 1809 (nearly thirty years after William Murdock developed coal gas as a practical fuel). Public gas supplies were introduced when the Gas Light and Coke Co of London set up their works in 1812 and small gas works were built in most towns in the years that followed. In 1820 a Glaswegian inventor introduced an improved twin-jet gas light for street lighting which was widely adopted for both industrial and street lighting.

In 1885 the German chemist Welsbach invented the 'gas mantle', a small bag made of heat-proof cloth which glowed white hot in the gas flame and gave a much brighter and steady light. The gas light then became a perfectly viable lighting system and remained in widespread domestic use into the 1940s although in many towns it was not used during the summer months (in some they did not light up during a couple of days to either side of the full moon period either).

In the 1870s a new way of making calcium carbide was developed (using electricity) - If water is dripped onto this material it releases acetylene gas. This allowed people to make hand-held lanterns and torches which burned the acetylene to give a fairly strong white light. The police used torches of this type, fitted with a handle on the back as the top housed the chimney, they could be hung on the policeman's leather belt. Acetylene lights were also used for road vehicles including bicycles, horse drawn carts and motor vehicles. The carbide is a dark grey to black solid and has to be kept in sealed containers to keep out of contact with moisture from the air. It is therefore shipped in a light oil in drums or cased glass bottles. Bicycles and people requiring a bright portable light mainly used Acetylene lamps prior to the Second World War. They were simple and worked well enough but the light output tended to vary a lot and they occasionally burst into flames. Acetylene lights were regularly used for temporary lighting at road works and in industry but they were replaced by gas lights using cylinders of compressed propane or butane gas and electric lights using incandescent lamps after the Second World War.

The arc light uses an electric arc between two sacrificial carbon rods to create light. The light is very bright and very harsh (at close range it will damage the human eye), it was not suitable for domestic use but found applications in lighting industrial yards and later as a street light (mounted on very tall posts). Electric arc lights were sometimes used to light up large areas such as railway yards and docks from the mid nineteenth century up to the early years of the twentieth century when powerful electric incandescent and later gas vapour light bulbs were developed. London's Royal docks had arc lights installed in the late 1880's, mounted on eighty foot tall posts and supplied by four steam driven generators each rated at twenty horse power. It was claimed that the light level would always be as good as 'a clear moonlit night'. By the time of the First World War a number of streets had electric lighting, carried on tall (not less than twenty feet) masts, usually on street corners or set up in the centre of a square or cross roads. At the outbreak of war in 1939 the main source of street lighting in London was still the arc light. Arc lights remained in widespread use for devices such as search lights into the 1950s but other forms of electric light proved more viable.

The incandescent light bulb uses a strip of material heated by electricity until it glows white hot, the development of reliable bulbs of this type took some time, Edison in the US and Swan in the UK worked on the problems, producing viable lighting systems in the 1880s. It was about 1910 before the problems were all resolved (reliably creating a vacuum, adding a little inert gas to stop the molecules of the white hot filament migrating to the glass envelope etc.). By the 1930s electric lighting was in widespread use in domestic and industrial lighting but the available bulbs were rather unreliable for street lighting.

The incandescent electric light bulb, simple and cheap to produce (although not very efficient) was the standard light source for domestic use and for portable equipment such as hand held torches and vehicle lighting up to about 2002. From about that date LED (light emitting diode) lights began to rival the incandescent in terms of brilliance (this was achieved by using banks of the LEDs, a single LED does not produce much light). These soon appeared as a small unit with a bank of rapidly flashing lights for use on bicycles. They are useless as a 'headlight' but there are now few places without street lighting and they serve well to warn other road users of the bicycle's presence. On larger vehicles such as motor cars the side lights are increasingly banks of LEDs, which offer a considerable energy saving over incandescent light bulbs.

During the nineteenth century there were various experiments using an arc lamp contained in a glass tube to excite a gas and produce light, the first breakthrough was the mercury arc lamp invented in about 1900 in the USA, this used much less electricity for a given light output than the standard incandescent light bulb and was soon in widespread use in industry. The red glowing 'neon tube' was invented in France just before the First World War and neon signs became a feature of towns world wide by the mid 1920s.

In the 1930s the sodium discharge lamp was developed by Philips, producing a distinct yellow light, this was too strongly coloured for domestic or industrial use but by the 1940s it had found favour as a street light. As sodium lights were considered to have less glare than the mercury type early street light lanterns were open with little more than simple reflectors (the so-called 'seagull-reflectors', and example can be seen in the sketch of pre-war street lights below).

Also in the 1930s the fluorescent tube was developed, this has a mercury vapour inside and a special coating, when energised the coating itself glows and produces a lot of fairly neutral white light for a given quantity of electricity. The main snag with the fluorescent tube is that it is actually flashing in sympathy with the electricity supply frequency, so any industrial machines using electric motors have to be designed not to operate in sympathy with that frequency or the moving parts will appear to be stationary or moving slowly due to the strobe effect of the light.

Street Lighting

There is now an enthusiasts site on this subject that could prove interesting for those interested in period detail accuracy. The address is

Street lighting as we know it today is the result of many years of development and investment. Prior to the coming of the railways each parish had its 'Commissioners for Improvement' who were responsible for lighting, cleaning, paving and generally regulating towns. These commissioners were replaced after the 1835 Municipal Reform Act by Health Boards and subsequently by Borough Councils. This act allowed local authorities to establish their own police forces for towns and the 1839 County Police Act allowed the establishment of police forces for rural areas. Some towns and rural areas did not bother to set up their own forces and the Police Act of 1856 made these mandatory. By 1859 the police system covered the whole country, each town and county having its own independent force. For more on police forces see Appendix One - Emergency Services. The police were not purely a crime fighting organisation, they also lit the street lamps in the evening and provided both the fire brigade and ambulance services. The legislation relating to street lighting has been introduced piecemeal over the years, with varying degrees of responsibility and authority conferred on various bodies from parishes to national government. As of 2005 there was not legal responsibility on anyone to provide street lighting. There is no statutory requirement on local authorities in the United Kingdom to provide public lighting, the following summary is taken from a recent (2005) government sponsored document.
The following statutes empower local authorities to light roads but do not impose a duty.
In England and Wales, the Highways Act 1980 empowers a Highway Authority to provide lighting for any highway or proposed highway for which they are, or will be, the Highway Authority. District Councils and many Parish or Town Councils also have the power to provide lighting as local lighting authorities; these powers being conferred by the Public Health Act 1985, or the Parish Councils Act 1957. Where such Councils wish to provide lighting on a highway, the consent of the Highway Authority is required. In Northern Ireland, the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993, Article 44 [5] grants the Department of the Environment the power to provide road lighting, where the Department considers that any road should be illuminated.
In Scotland, the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, Section 35 [6], empowers a local roads authority to provide lighting for roads, or proposed roads, which are, or will be, maintainable by them and which in their opinion ought to be lit.
Highway Authorities have a duty of care to the road user. Any loss to an individual as a consequence of the inappropriate use of these powers may result in action being taken to recover the loss. Such action could be taken on several grounds:
- Negligent exercise of power (including failure to use that power). There is no blanket immunity.
- Action for misfeasance of public office.
- Breach of the common law duty of care (if it can be established).

NOTE: This duty of care does not imply any duty on the Highway Authority to keep the public lighting lit. However, an authority responsible for the maintenance of public lighting should be able to demonstrate that they have systems in place to maintain the public lighting equipment in a safe condition, including the detection of dangerous equipment.

Up to the 1930s lights were widely spaced even in towns, in many photographs, particularly of industrial areas, there are no street lights in evidence at all. Lights tended to be placed 'where they were needed', hence town centres would have quite a few, a small village might well not have any at all (I do not recall seeing any on the Pendon layout for example). This meant you walked down a street from 'pool of light to pool of light' but there were many small shops on the streets which had large windows for displaying their wares and as these stayed open to nine (in some cases ten) at night there was a lot of light spilling onto the roadway. Any building which wished to be considered important would typically have a lantern of some form above the entrance, this was standard on government buildings and larger private homes (I believe Number 10 Downing Street still has the old gas light above the entrance) but this was also common on pubs and shops. Outside the towns street lighting was the exception rather than the rule, country lanes even today are often unlit but even major roads in the 1930s had no street lighting outside the built up areas.

Over the years the requirements have changed, once the motor vehicle became common more lights were added at specific hazards such as sharp bends in the road and at junctions. Street lighting was, prior to the 1960s, not designed to illuminate the road, that (in the case of road vehicles) was the job of headlights, but was intended to illuminate hazards. In a local small town (Gatley, south of Manchester) they strung a wire across a junction at about the time of the First World War and suspended a mercury vapour light from this to illuminate the roads. This had a distinctive blue colour and was known as The Swinging Light. The fact that it passed into folk law shows how rare street lighting was.

From old photographs even in comparatively affluent areas the gas lamps were widely spaced along the road in the period around the First World War, typically 100ft spacing (in some cases they were also staggered, giving 200ft between lights on the same side of the road). In N Gauge that equates to roughly 20cm or about seven or eight inches.

In 1937 reflectors for sodium lights were introduced, throwing more of the light downwards and the Ministry of Transport issued a comprehensive set of guidelines on the positioning of street lights. These recommended (amongst other things) that single-side lighting be avoided other than on bends (road lamps mounted in the centre of the road were allowed, presumably this refers to dual carriageways), lamps on important roads carrying through traffic (in built up areas) should be about 150ft or 45m spacing, the distance between lights on either side of a road should be no more than 30ft or 9m, the light itself should be at a height of 25 ft or 7.5m and the overhang onto the road should be no more than 6ft or 2m to ensure the pavement was well lit. For side streets the suggested height of the lantern was lower at about 15ft or 4.5m and staggered lighting was recommended with a spacing of about 120 ft or 36m, special care being taken to ensure that junctions were properly lit. Having said which on one quite important local road in the 1930s the sodium lights were mounted on the existing tram wire masts, these were spaced at about 100ft intervals and the lights were on every alternate post, giving a separation of about 200ft.

Again from old photographs in built up areas the spacing could be a lot tighter, on a well sit side street you could expect to have a post every 50-60ft or 15-20m, albeit staggered with one on one side of the road, the next on the other. That sort of spacing seems to have remained fairly constant at least into the 1960s, particularly with the standard concrete side-street posts.

Andy Burns (a denizen of the uk.rec.sheds newsgroup) has pointed out that in the current Highway Code (2006) it says that if the street lights are less than 200 yards apart you should assume you are within a 30mph speed restriction zone (unless there are signs to the contrary). From which it would appear that the spacing has increased somewhat since the 1937 guidelines were drawn up, presumably as a result of more powerful lights being developed. This would tally with the increasing height of posts as described below.

Examples of street lights

The posts used for lighting have either been metal or (from the later thirties to the early seventies) reinforced concrete. Early lighting posts tended to be quite ornate, which was not a problem as they were made from cast iron so no additional fabrication was required. Most seem to have been painted black but in more genteel areas various shades of green were also used. This changed to a standard black in the later 1980s as designs favoured slender tubular steel posts which require additional protection from corrosion. The concrete posts were (I believe) always self-coloured. The base of any electric lamp post supporting an incandescent or gas discharge lamp has a larger section to accommodate the connections and switching equipment. This section will be fitted with a door for maintenance. The metal posts have always tended to be cylindrical and the door was often in the form of a hinge-down section of slightly larger diameter, on the concrete posts (which tended to be either square or triangular but with the corners cut off) it was normal to have a light grey metal door set flush with one of the longer sides.

Up to the 1950's at least one feature of most lighting posts, street and industrial, was a short bar on one or both sides of the post near the top to allow a ladder to be secured for maintenance. In the 1940's extending platforms were introduced and in the late 1960's hydraulic 'cherry picker' lifts appeared and the cross bars disappeared from new posts. The platform shown in the sketch below is a generic example, various chassis were used for these vehicles.

Fig___ Pre world war two street light service truck

Trolley wire service truck

Street gas lights tended to me relatively low as the light was not very bright and the 'lamp lighter' had to reach up to the top with his pole to open the gas valve and light the jet. The gas lamp lighters remained a feature of life in many cities up to the Second World War. In 1867 the city of Norwich invested in clockwork time switches (patented earlier the same year by a local surgeon) for their gas street lights, these were the world's first 'timer switches'. The mechanism ran for a week on a single winding, switching the lights on and off. I remember a similar clockwork mechanism still in use on an isolated gas lamp in my local town in the mid 1970's.

By the 1850s the old paraffin lamps used as street lights were being replaced by gas lights, but the old oil lamps were still used in a number of locations (including remote railway stations) into the 1940's. In the sketch below the example on the left is a wall mounted oil lamp, common in narrow streets and industrial premises. This appears to have been switched to gas supply using the pipe mounted on the wall. The post mounted lamp is sketched from a photograph of a railway loading bank which had a set of four of these lights arranged along it at about seventeen foot intervals (roughly one per wagon when the work was being done at after dark). In the street these lanterns were often seen at junctions, on important roads there might be a couple dotted along the way, usually mounted on short (eight foot) posts or on wall mounted brackets.

Fig___ Oil lamps

Oil lamp types from photographs

In my own local town of Altrincham the first gas supply was provided in 1844 by the owner of a coaching inn (the Unicorn Hotel). The gas generating equipment was housed in a small building at the rear of the hotel and as well as lighting the hotel he supplied gas to a few street lights close by, which the new local Police Constable lit each night. It was 1846 before a proper independent gas supply company was established in the town and following the formation of the local Health Board in 1851 gas street lighting was extended throughout the town.

The sketches below, all based on photographs, show a range of gas lamps. On the left is a very early open flame lamp, sketched from a photograph taken in the mid nineteenth century. The next picture shows a typical gas street lamp, with a lamplighter carrying his long pole for scale. The rather ornate post is at the entrance to a railway yard, there was one of these on each side of the entrance. Although the shape of the lantern was fairly standard the size varied a bit as can be seen by the picture on the right, sketched from an example in a town centre in the 1930s. The policeman gives the scale (he is about 6ft 6ins, just over 2m, to the top of his helmet). The next lamp is mounted on a small circular traffic island set in the centre of a road junction. The lamp is taller than the standard street lights and has a three-flame burner for brightness. The example on the extreme right is a slightly different type seen in the more 'post' streets of towns, the glass at the top is a tapering cylinder. On a layout set in any period up to the early 1930s you can quite legitimately get away with only having gas street lighting.

Fig___ Gas lamp types from photographs

Gas lamp types from photographs

The example on the extreme right was replicated for replacement electric lights from the 1940s, the pillar would be concrete (still fluted) and the top of the lamp housing would be much flatter (examples can still be seen in use today).

As with the oil lamps the gas street lights were seen at road junctions and widely spaced along a street, and many streets appear to have had non at all for a fair bit of their length. On narrow side streets the lamp was sometimes mounted on the corner of a building, sometimes this was because the building was a shop, in other locations it was a corporation lamp. The example shown below left is a 'corporation' lamp illuminating the corner of the road. In major cities there tended to be more street lights but these still did not illuminate the entire area, hence it was standard practice to have lamps fitted beside and above doors for important or industrial buildings. A good example being the blue 'police' lamp, using to indicate the entrance to a police station. Up to the 1990s the main street entrance to a police station was always open when the building was manned (24 hours a day for a town or city station). By the late 1990s a lot of police stations no longer had an open door during the evening, instead a phone is provided connecting you to the main police headquarters, if they feel the case is sufficiently urgent they telephone the station and ask someone to open the door and let you in. I understand (from a retired police officer) that this practice is to allow the staff to devote more time to filling in paperwork for the government rather than anything associated with fighting crime.

Fig___ Blue lamp at police station entrance in 2006

Blue lamp at police station entrance

Most of these lanterns were the same size as the standard street lamps, the parts for which were readily available. In some cases however outsize lanterns were fitted to emphasis the importance of the building. The example shown below centre is above the door of a 1930s pub in an area of small streets of terraced housing. The light was always electrically powered but the design was that of a standard gas lamp. The remainder of the lighting on this street was gas lamps, these were rather widely spaced so the bright light above the pub door must have been very welcoming on a dark and misty winters evening. The light on the right is above the entrance to Hale station, illuminating the steps.

Fig___ Gas lamps on buildings

Gas lamps on street corner and above pub door

Electric street lights were initially opposed by the government, they argued that improved lighting would encourage people to go out and get drunk in the evenings. This argument was the reverse of those that had been put forward in connection with the 1832 Act and they relented in 1882 with the passing of the Electric Lighting Act.

Prior to about 1930 this was mainly concerned with arc lights used in larger towns and cities. Sir Humphry Davy demonstrated an experimental arc lamp in 1807, this used a battery of 2,000 cells to create a 4-inch arc between two rods of charcoal. It was in the 1870s, with the developments in electricity generation, that the arc lamp became a practical proposition. From the later 1870s the 'Yablochkov candle' type (invented by a Russian called Paul Yablochkov) was used for street lighting in Paris and other European cities. This had two carbon rods with a ceramic strip between them, the ceramic burned away as the rods were consumed. This invention meant that no mechanical adjustment of the rods was required, making the whole contraption more reliable, AC power was used to ensure even burning of both rods. In 1879 Blackpool invested in eight powerful Siemens arc lamps (the advertising referred to them as 'artificial sunshine'), coupled with a firework display this formed the basis of the modern Blackpool Illuminations. These were the first electric street lights in Britain. The first electric (arc) street lights in my local town were installed on the main road (the A56) in 1895, covering a junction and a rather sharp curve round the old market place but gas lamps remained in use on some older residential and small scale industrial side streets in the town into the early 1970s.

Arc lights shed a very harsh light, at an intensity that can damage peoples eyes at close range, hence they were always installed on very tall posts (typically at least 20ft or 6m tall). The posts used were often rather ornate with complex cast iron filigree work, however you would need very few of these for a layout, they were not spaced out along the road but positioned at strategic points, above road junctions and roundabouts or in the centre of city squares. The sketch below left shows three typical arc light posts, also shown are a typical gas lamp and a policeman for scale. The item on the right is a street light mounted on a tall post on a traffic island in the centre of a large town. The U shaped support for the light fitting was fairly common for all types of electric lighting, particularly those used in industrial areas and railway yards.

Fig___ Arc lamps sketched from photographs

Town centre arc lamps

Gas street lighting remained under development into the 1930s and electric street lighting was introduced piecemeal, the gas lamps were already in place throughout the towns and the big arc lights were cumbersome and difficult to maintain. The incandescent bulb became a viable street lighting option about the time of the First World War but this involved laying cables and making new light fittings to avoid people being electrocuted on the metal lamp posts. The bulbs themselves were neither terribly bright nor very reliable. As a result electric lighting was mainly associated with isolated arc lights with some incandescent lighting on main roads up until the 1930's.

The entire national electricity supply was reorganised following the First World War (see also Appendix One - Fuels) however local authorities, in the form of Electricity Boards and the dwindling number of private supply companies, remained largely independent. The A56 close by where I now live was the boundary between two separate boroughs and when electricity replaced gas street lighting in 1926 each borough settled on different designs of street light (Blaizolite and Rodalux), one on each side of the road, this situation remained until 1936 when the road was rewired as a single entity.

In the 30's the sodium and mercury lights had been developed into a much more practical proposition and from the later 1930s were increasingly used for street lighting. As noted above the arc light was still the principal form of lighting on main streets in central London at the outbreak of the second world war, the bulk of the remainder being lit by gas. In the built up suburbs, at least those built after about 1935, electric street lighting was added during the construction of the estates.

Electric lighting can be supplied by a flexible cable, which means installations can vary quite a lot. As well as those mounted on posts they were also seen suspended from wires strung across the road (often seen where tram wires were already in place), a typical suspended type (seen into the 1980s at industrial locations) is shown at A in the illustration below. B is a typical early 1930s 'swan-necked' cast iron lamp post with a simple open reflector for use with a sodium light (discussed below) and C is another 1930s example, by the later part of this decade concrete was often used for the main post with a metal swan-neck on top. Examples of these 1930s designs remained commonplace into the 1960s. Concrete posts became very common by the end of the Second World War, for one thing they were cheaper to make than the cast iron type at that time. They are (I believe) always self-coloured and have a light grey metal door set into the base, about eight inches wide by two feet high, to give access to the connections and timer circuits. D is a typical 1940s concrete post, the lamp itself remains in a form of pendant fitting, the protective glass has a hinge on one side to enable the bulb to be replaced. The lantern on these was roughly level with the upstairs window of the nearby houses. Posts of this type were still being put up in the early 1960s. These were modified in the later 1970s with a new elongated fluorescent light fitting, shown below, for use with low pressure sodium lights. E is a tall lamp standard, this may well have been supporting tram wires (the posts for tram supplies were all about this height), as it is on a dangerous junction it might be a former arc light post. As there was already an electricity supply to tram wires it was not uncommon for an electric light to be added to the post, or suspended from the suspension wires. The rectangular light fitting is unusual, this was the only example of the type for which I found a photograph. F is a double light fitting, dating from (I believe) the mid 1930s, this rather ornate post was on a traffic island in a large town. Lighting on main roads generally employed taller posts and larger light fittings. G was sketched is from a photograph dated 1935, showing a section of the newly opened Great West Road (one of the first dual-carriageways in Britain). From studying the original photograph it seems the arms supporting the lanterns can swing over the central reservation, allowing men to do maintenance work without using the road itself.

Fig___ Pre-war electric street lights

Electric street lights

Globe shaped lights are (I believe) associated with electric lighting, although many had an ornamental top piece which may have been the necessary chimney for a gas light (although lighting them would have been problematic). Making the globe shaped lantern, and maintain them, is more expensive than the flat sided lanterns so they are generally reserved for ornamental work. The lights on the Embankment in London are of this type and similar examples can be found around important building throughout the country, the example shown below left is one of a set mounted outside a large meeting hall in one of the leafy Victorian suburbs of South Manchester. On bridges (in towns) it seems to have been felt necessary to provide additional lighting and pairs or even triplets of lights were often found mounted in the top of the bridge walls. The example below shows a twin-globe type, which seems to have been common in the 1930s and remained in evidence into the early 1970s when many were scrapped as new street lighting on light tubular metal posts was installed. The globe shaped lanterns were ill suited to the elongated shape of the low-energy gas vapour lights then in vogue. Since the 1990s several councils have reinstated the 'traditional' globe shaped lanterns, the example shown below right is in fact a modern replacement, the base is a modern 'replica' street lamp and the globes are suspended from rectangular tubes welded to the sides, however it does capture the look of the original designs. There are rules about light pollution (light released upwards from street lighting that serves no useful purpose) which restrict the use of globe shaped lanterns, although there may in fact be an internal reflector to direct the light downwards onto the pavement.

Fig___ Globe shaped electric street lights

Globe shaped electric street lights

By the 1960s there were experiments in using fluorescent tube technology for street lighting, however other than in industrial premises it was not widely used. The low power consumption mercury (blue-green) and sodium (yellow) lights used for street lighting have a strong colour bias, so they have only been used for street lighting and for illuminating large yards and the like. The low pressure sodium type, developed in the 1960s, generally have an elongated housing with a vent on the top (a sodium light operates at a temperature of over 200 degrees C). These became popular in the 1970s due to the energy savings it offered at a time of high energy costs. It was at about this time that tall slender steel posts began to be bore widely used, although these are much more susceptible to corrosion and cracking than cast iron they are lighter and cheaper to make. From the later 1980s it was realised that these posts needed not only hot-dip galvanising but also additional protective coating and this seems to have been a standard black. Lighting equipment from that era has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years so the large housing of the low pressure sodium lights were starting to be replaced with more modern, smaller, high pressure light fittings in the early 21st century. Examples on slender metal posts with a long projection over the road (see example D in the illustration below) have been in use since about 1960.

In the illustration below A is a vertical fluorescent tube type introduced in the 1960s, common in pedestrianised areas they were also used on some side streets if the lighting was replaced, these tended to be slightly shorter, level with the upstairs window sill on nearby buildings but some, as shown here, were as tall as the concrete type. As far as I am aware they were not installed after the early 1970s and had pretty much disappeared by the later 1980s. B is a 1940s design concrete post retro-fitted with a more modern elongated housing in the 1970s. Examples of this type were still fairly common on residential side roads in 2005. C is a 1970s metal post, the lamp itself is now at about the height of the gutters on the houses. The very tall lamp D, on the right, is on a side street and is about as tall as the apex of the roofs, this dates from about 1990. Lamp posts on main roads were quite often this tall, tall side street lighting seems to have come in during the 1990s. E shows a very tall concrete post street light, mounted beside a road in an industrial area. The sketch was made from a photograph dated in the mid 1950s but the post might possibly be pre-war. These appear to have been very widely spaced, presumably merely to allow lorries to find their war to the factories. It is difficult to tell from the photograph but they may only have been mounted above junctions, so very few would be required for a model layout.

Fig___ Post-war electric street lights

Electric street lights

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