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BLEECO Brighton And Hove Swan Neck Bracket

Genre: Swan neck bracket

The "swan neck" bracket probably gained prominence as the electric arc lamp became popular in the late 19th century. The arc lamp required suspending above the roadway by its canopy, so a sweeping, curved bracket was utilised to position the lantern relative to the column. With the advent of the inverted mantle, gas manufacturers followed suit; suspending lanterns by their canopies prevented shadows and the dark spaces associated with the early post-top Windsor style frame lanterns. Finally, the first lanterns for tungsten filament bulbs followed the trend and were also top-entry.

The swan neck was easy to manufacture from a iron or steel rolled tube. They were either fully formed to support the lantern directly, or finished on the horizontal so a decorative finial was required. Other decorations included the purely aesthetic scrollwork and collars, whilst tulip and leaf husks not only beautified the spigot cap, but also provided additional protection from rust at the joint between the bracket and spigot.

The swan neck was a popular choice for a "gas conversion" in the 1940s and 1950s where the original gas post-top lantern was removed and replaced with a swan neck and high level termination. As columns were originally made in various heights, swan neck brackets were also made in different sizes so the lantern height above the road could be standardised.

By the 1950s, the swan neck bracket was still extremely popular, as manufacturers were still producing large numbers of top-entry lanterns. However, the lines became simpler, and the decoration was eventually scaled down and finally removed entirely. It was a practical move: scrollwork and spigot joints formed dirt and moisture traps where corrosion could set in.

As side entry lanterns became popular, the swan neck declined in numbers. Brackets evolved into simple bracket arms, or became part of the column (as with the popular "hockey stick" column). However, the swan neck does live on, albeit in smaller numbers, and is still available as a "traditional" option for decorative and/or heritage style street lighting.


Name: BLEECO Brighton And Hove Swan Neck Bracket
Date: Circa 1920s - 1950s
Dimensions: 63" (height), 17" (width)
Specs: BLEECO pointed finial, no scrollwork, BLEECO collar, BLEECO leaf husk and BLEECO small circular fuse box with spigot
Lantern: BLEECO Worthing (200-300W)




History

The history of BLEECO columns and brackets isn't well documented although examples of their range appear in various booklets and leaflets.

The only known appearance of the Brighton And Hove Bracket appeared in a BLEECO catalogue from 1934. The catalogue shows a smaller version of this bracket. So this bracket of larger proportions could cater the larger sized lanterns in BLEECO's range. As it was quite tall, it was probably also designed for shorter columns, where the extra height provided by a swan neck bracket was required.




Popularity

These large brackets were used extensively throughout Sussex, but appeared rare in other parts of the country.





The BLEECO Brighton And Hove Bracket In My Collection

facing profile

The bracket was obtained from fellow collector Bob Cookson and I remember it was painted black. I found the lantern in a skip in Brighton, so I brought the two together to create a classic BLEECO street light.




front profile

The bracket is a large swan-neck and easily accomodates the large lantern.




trailing profile

The bracket was a large version of the firm's classic Brighton And Hove bracket. The smaller version appeared in this catalogue from 1934. This larger version would've been used for smaller cast iron columns so the lantern could be positioned at the correct 15' mounting height.




finial

The finial is classic BLEECO and can be found on many of their brackets.




spigot decoration

The bracket also has the standard BLEECO spigot decoration. This large piece of cast iron is slotted onto the bracket and held in place with a lock screw.

Unfortunately it's a moisture trap and water collects between the spigot decoration and the top of the fuse box. I've seen a couple of examples where the rust has become so bad that the bracket has snapped at this point.




fuse box cover

The front of the fuse box has a small, circular BLEECO cover held in place by brass screws.




fuse box interior

The small fuse box has just enough space for two small fuses. These weren't original with this bracket, being obtained from a scrap bracket.