related to my interest in discharge lighting comes a strong interest in
street lighting - specifically that of yesteryear. My
memory of an interest in lighting was watching a 35W SOX lamp in the
streetlight at the end of our driveway coming on and warming up every
evening and wondering why it changed colour. I also observed
complete lack of colour rendering, though I had no idea at the time
what the funny colours it changed peoples cars meant!
I keep meaning to drive past there again someday and see if that lantern is still there! Though the recent explosion in PL compact fluorescent based lanterns in the area means that I very much doubt that the old GEC is still in place.
I've been doing a bit of investigation when I've been out and about at the weekend in Aberdeen though trying to track down some of the older (or more unusual) lanterns in Aberdeen where I'm based these days. Below are some of those I've found, along with a bit of background information where I have some.
The most recent, and probably most interesting find to date is the following.
In the carpark of an office building presently vacant and up for lease just off Mugiemoss Road I spotted three SOX lanterns that didn't quite match anything I had seen locally before.
These turned out after a little bit of investigation to be really rather venerable old lanterns, which fellow streetlighting enthusiast Mike Barford identified for me. They're AEI Amber's, in this case most likely in 35W gear-in-base form. The distinctive bowl shape coupled with the even more distinctive latches make this an easy one to identify once you've actually seen one - which given how scarce they are these days you probably won't have done. They do have a vaguely GEC-esque look to them, which isn't really too surprising given that AEI merged with GEC in 1968, and this is effectively the distant ancestor to what we later knew as the Beta 5.
The first is the worst of the bunch, though it's still far from a scrapper! There's a bit of damage to the bowl, and one of the refractors has fallen off. In person you can just about make out however that it's still in the bowl though (buried in the gunk in the bottom), so could easily be glued back onto the side of the bowl if the lantern was recovered. There is a fair amount of clouding of the bowl on this one, but nowhere much as bad as on quite a few of the examples I've seen online.
The second lantern is in about as good shape (externally anyway!) as you could ever wish for a pre-restoration example to be in. The bowl is far clearer than the first and is undamaged - it must be reasonably well sealed too given how little gunk there is inside for the age of it! There are many lanterns throughout the city still in current service more badly in need of a clean than this. This lantern clearly still has a lamp present in the holder, I couldn't quite make out whether there was one in the other two.
The final one is rather more filfthy, not least due to its residence under a tree, but like the second in good, crack/hole free and complete condition. It also appears to have lost one of its diffractors, but it's not so easy to see in this case due to the clouding and rather grubby state of the bowl.
I shall be making contact with the rental agent and the developer who takes over this site to see if anything can be done to save the rare lanterns in due course, as it would be a terrible shame for them to end up in a skip somewhere.
UPDATE: 06 July 2009.
Unfortunately, despite a number of attempts to contact the agent holding the site and doing the development work there, no response was ever received. Last week I travelled past there again and noted that the entire place has been levelled - including the columns shown above. So unless someone other than myself managed to rescue them - I'm afraid that the quest to save these lanterns was unsuccessful.
Hopefully the quest to save another, even older one I think I've spotted elsewhere will be slightly less unsuccessful! More details on that once I get a chance to get a better look at it.
There may be further additions to this page in the future, however I need to dig all of the photos out and try to remember what's on which streets and such first - these I wanted to share though, especially as I only found them recently.