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Lucy Large 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 As columns were originally made in various heights, swan neck brackets were also made in different sizes so the lantern height above the road could be standardised.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: Lucy Large Swan Neck Bracket
Date: Circa 1920s - 1950s
Dimensions: 7' 1" (height), 1' 8" (width)
Specs: Flower finial, single scrollwork, simple collar, BLEECO time switch box with spigot
Lantern: ESLA Bi-Multi Group "AL" Two-Way 165°




History

The history of Lucy columns and brackets isn't documented and no catalogues have surfaced.

The finial and scrollwork decoration are typical of Lucy which is how this bracket was identified.

It's an enormous bracket, and was obviously intended for extremely short columns.




Popularity

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





The Lucy Bracket In My Collection

facing profile

This bracket (and ESLA Bi-Multi lantern) originally stood on a fluted cast-iron column along Park Lane, Cheam, Surrey. I purchased the bracket and its lantern from Sutton Council upon its removal in 1995.




front profile

Whilst it sported a BLEECO control box, I believe the bracket was made by Lucy. The vast majority of other brackets in the installation were fitted with Lucy fuse boxes, and the distinctive flower finial is often associated with Lucy. Unfortunately, no catalogues by Lucy have ever surfaced, so 100% positive identification isnít possible.




trailing profile

This swan-neck bracket is enormous, standing at around 6' tall. It was obviously designed for mounting on short cast iron columns, probably shorter gas columns (produced before the standardisation of mounting heights). These large Lucy brackets were favoured by Surrey County Council and could be found installed all over the county.




finial

This distinctive flower finial is often found on brackets I believe were made by Lucy, and doesnít appear in other manufacturers' literature. Therefore, itís believed itís a Lucy finial.

The bracket was painted silver, the original colours used by Sutton Council.




scrollwork

The scrollwork on this bracket is clamped onto the pipework and is in excellent condition. (Sometimes corrosion forces the clamps open and the scrollwork falls off). Other brackets sometimes had the scrollwork welded to the bracket.

Interestingly the scrollwork prevents some ESLA Bi-Multi lanterns to be screwed onto the finial, as the wings of the lantern hit the curved metalwork. Its thought that lighting engineers originally threaded the lantern onto the finial, and then screwed the finial onto the bracket.




base of bracket

Unlike some bracket manufacturers, no jointing has been added to the top of the bracket to prevent corrosion. This has caused some corrosion in this case, where collected water has started to rust the bracket tubing.




time switch box: road side

The BLEECO RB956 had space for a hand switch and two fuses. On the road facing side can be seen BLEECO's characteristic art-deco styling and identification plates. The brass screws held the backboard (and later timeswitch).




time switch box: pavement side

The pavement side featured the door of the time switch box, more ornamentally decorated with BLEECO's nameplates and decoration.

Originally the door featured a Fulham rotary hand switch and the two protruding lugs acted as stoppers for the switch handle. At some point in the 1960s, the switch was removed and a timeswitch was installed; a nut was used to cap the front of the door handle as can be seen.




time switch box: interior

This was the contents of the time switch box as 1996 - except I've removed and replaced the 1960s wiring. The time switch was a later modification, added in the 1960s, replacing the old Fulham rotary time switch. Other than that, the contents are original.







ESLA Bracket: As Originally Purchased

This is the earliest photograph I have of this bracket and lantern, taken in 1997 for the first version of this website. Here it has been stripped and coated with red oxide, awaiting its first coat of silver.