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ESLA 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 As columns were originally made in various heights, swan neck brackets were also made in different sizes so the lantern height above the road could be standardised.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: ESLA Swan Neck Bracket
Date: Circa 1920s - 1950s
Dimensions: 5' 2" (height), 1' 2" (width)
Specs: Fleur-de-lis finial, single scrollwork, simple collar, ESLA time switch box with spigot
Lantern: ESLA Bi-Multi Group "AL" Two-Way 165°


The history of ESLA columns and brackets isn't well documented although examples of their range appear in the only catalogue known.

This bracket and scrollwork were obviously designed to take ESLA Bi-Multi Group "AL" series as the lantern fits snugly within the swan neck. Interestingly, the bracket has hardly any overhang, and was probably designed for narrow streets.

The oval ESLA clock box is extremely typical, as is the spigot cap with its vertical grooves.


A rare bracket, this shape was extremely uncommon.

The ESLA Bracket In My Collection

facing profile

I purchased the bracket from a street lighting depot in Sussex; the bracket had been removed from service in 2004 and the lighting engineer would keep "interesting" brackets to one side. It was fitted with a broken REVO Prefect lantern, but this ESLA bracket deserved an ESLA lantern.

front profile

Depsite being a tall bracket, it hardly had any overhang. This suggests the bracket was used for narrow streets where space was at a premium.

trailing profile

The scrollwork and shape of the bracket was designed to support an ESLA Bi-Multi Group "AL" lantern.

top of the bracket

Interestingly the bracket curled down to directly support the lantern; normally swan necks stopped on the horizontal and a finial was used to connect the lantern. In this case, the Fleur-de-lis finial is purely decoration.

The lantern was held firm in position by a lock nut threaded onto the bracket.


The Fleur-de-lis was bolted to the bracket as extra decoration. Additionally it also held the top of the scrollwork. The gap between the finial and the bracket is an obvious moisture and dirt trap, but strangely there hadn't been any corrosion during all the years this bracket was installed.

The other end of the scrollwork was held in place by a simple metal collar.

base of bracket

The base of the bracket was undecorated, simply screwed into the time switch box and was held with a lock nut.

Other ESLA brackets featured an elaborate cast iron joint which was both decorative and helped prevent water collection and corrosion, but this bracket was far more simple.

time switch box

The oval design was classic ESLA although only some had ESLA's name cast across the front. (Note how the hinges need touching up as I painted the cover of the door whilst it was open).

Unfortunately the cover bolt was missing, so I'll have to source another.

All that remained inside was the remains of a modern cut-off. I haven't retrofitted another other components, and have simply left the inside bare.

spigot cap

The spigot cap was, again, classic ESLA with its characteristic vertical grooves.

The old bolts were removed and replaced with Whitworth 3/8" threaded bolts.

ESLA Bracket: As Originally Purchased

After years of service, the bracket wasn't in bad state: the paintwork was flaking but mostly covering the metal; areas of rust were small; and one of the copper supports holding the time switch box had snapped in two (owing to the expansion of the steel screw holding it in place).

It was originally fitted with a REVO Prefect lantern. This was removed and swapped with another collector.