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lucy medium 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 As columns were originally made in various heights, swan neck brackets were also made in different sizes so the lantern height above the road could be standardised.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 Medium Swan Neck Bracket
Date: Circa 1920s - 1960s
Dimensions: 1.2M 3'11" (height), 0.5M 1'7" (width)
Specs: Sphere and hook finial, Lucy toggle switch with backing fuse compartment
Lantern: ESLA Bi-Multi Group "A" Two-Way 180° STRAIGHT




History

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

The finial is atypical of the firm's product range - it's more typical of REVO. However the bracket included a Lucy back plate on fuse/toggle switch box so I believe it's from Lucy's rangel.




Popularity

Such brackets were uncommon - those with flower finials were more popular.





the lucy bracket in my collection

facing profile

This bracket (and ESLA Bi-Multi lantern) were a gift from Jesse, a specialist in antique lighting, who had found this website helpful. Therefore its history isn't known.




front profile

The austerity of the bracket suggested that it was made in the late 1940s or early 1950s. But the toggle switch a manual switch operated using a long pole by a lamplighter suggested a much earlier date for the bracket.




trailing profile

The bracket was around 3'11" tall. This would've been designed for a 10'-12' column, ensuring the lamp was positioned around the required 15' mounting height (assuming it was installed post-1937 and so was designed in accordance with the MOT Final Report).




finial

The "monkey-tail" finial was not typical of Lucy as most of the brackets I have seen from the firm have flower finials. No Lucy catalogues have ever surfaced so correctly identifying their product range is difficult. Such finials were produced by REVO and used on some of their brackets, but the Lucy cover plate suggests its manufacturing provenance.




base of bracket

The bracket was fitted with a circular fuse box/toggle switch. The plain sleeve over the base of the bracket's tube was designed to thicken the tube a sturdy defence against rust and a common failure point. A standard spigot was screwed onto the base.




time switch box: road side

The toggle switch allowed the lamp to be switched on or off by a lamplighter. The mechanism had rusted solid, and the internal mechanism had been removed. A circular extrusion limited the travel of toggle switch and the two positions "ON" and "OFF" were clearly marked.




time switch box: pavement side

The circular back plate featured the Lucy trapezium logo. This would have covered the fuses, but these had also been removed. The plate was damaged around one of the screw holes probably snapped off in frustration by a maintenance crew dealing with seized screws.







lucy bracket: as aquired

This bracket and lantern was a gift from a specialist in antique lighting. Having found this website useful, and having this bracket spare, he offered it to me for free. Many thanks Jesse.

Originally painted silver, this medium size swan-neck bracket has a Lucy fuse box and toggle switch fitted (but the internal mechanism and fuses themselves are missing). The bracket also lacks any decoration except for a rare spherical finial with hook extension.

The lantern is a rare ESLA Bi-Multi Group "A" 180 which suggests this street light was lighting a straight piece of path, the central reservation of a residential dual carriageway or another scenario where the beams didn't require angling.

Unfortunately the installation history of this particular bracket isn't known.