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BLEECO Worthing (100W) / BLEECO Open Type Conical Lantern 677

Genre: Open dome refractor lantern

The open dome refractor lantern appeared in the 1920s, a result of the burgeoning scientific approach to street lighting. By using a refractor dome positioned around the upper parts of a symmetrical point light source, beams of light could be fashioned and positioned to illuminate the road surface. The flux emitted in the lower hemisphere of the light source was uncontrolled, producing a circular pool of light below the lantern. In this way, the road surface for some distance and the environs around the lantern were illuminated.

This lantern design changed little during the next seventy years, although the glassware, refractor assembly, bulb holder and lantern canopy became steadily simpler. Although open lanterns were frowned upon by the mid-1950s (as no protection was afforded to the bulb nor the glassware so both got dirty and required regular cleaning), the open dome refractor continued being popular with local councils, still being made in the early 1980s.

In cases where no precise focusing mechanism was present, the filament of the bulb was either located at the base of the refractor, or at the position marked on the refractor glass (usually indicated by "LC" or "Lamp Centre"). In the case of high-pressure mercury bulbs, the arc tube was positioned in the same place as the filament.


Name: BLEECO Worthing (100W) later BLEECO Open Type Conical Lantern 677
Date: Circa 1920s - 1950s
Dimensions: Width: 12 3/8", Height: 8"
Light Distibution: Uniform Distribution (BS 307:1927)
Refractor: Holophane Duo-Dome 4607 (75o)
Lamp: 100W GLS, later 60W GLS




History

The first recorded appearance of this lantern was in a BLEECO catalogue from 1934. Named the Worthing, it was the smallest of a family of lanterns, and took a 100W tungsten filament bulb.

The lanternís name reflected the civic pride inherent in the UKís towns and cities during this period. Council members, or lighting engineers, with the help of a manufacturing firm's experts, often designed lanterns and brackets for their towns, and representatives of Worthing probably specified, and perhaps, designed this lantern. BLEECOís styling was also evident including the white conical over reflector and totally exposed refractor.

For its time, it had remarkably clean and modern lines, predicting the austere climate of the 1950s, and not reflecting the contemporary art deco and fussy fashions of the 1930s. This understated, simple exterior design continued inside the lantern; there were no elaborate bulb focusing mechanisms, simply a threaded bulb-holder and lock nut.

At some point in the 1940s, BLEECO renamed and reclassified many of its products, switching to numerical identifiers and functional names. The BLEECO Worthing became a member of the Open Type Conical Lantern family and was designated the number 677. The only design change (prompted by a British Standards Specification concerned with street lantern design, BS 1788:1951) was to support the refractor dome from the top rather than use long hooks to hold it by its base.




Identification

Early BLEECO lanterns have no manufacturers name or model number. Identification is only possible by matching the lantern against those in the catalogues.

Later BLEECO lanterns featured "Made In England", a three digit number, and a square symbol cast into the canopy of the lantern. Unfortunately, in these cases, the number isn't included in the current range of catalogues, but the lantern can be identified by examples in earlier catalogues.




Popularity

The BLEECO Worthing was very successful lantern, escaping its original home town of Worthing, and could be found distributed throughout the south of England and further northwards. It was particularly common in various Sussex towns and cities, with large installations in Worthing, Brighton and Hove, and notably used as the lighting on Brightonís Palace Pier.




Optical System

The BLEECO Worthing used a Holophane Duo-Dome refractor to control the light distribution. This optical system divided the flux from the tungsten filament lamp into two halves: light emitted from the lower hemisphere of the bulb was uncontrolled and symmetrically illuminated the area below the lantern; the light emitted from the upper hemisphere of the bulb formed two main beams directed by the prisms in the refractor. Therefore, the area around the base of the lantern was well illuminated for the pedestrian and house owner (e.g. pavement, front gardens and parked cars) and the road surface was illuminated at longer distances from the lantern for the car driver (e.g. bright road surface, dark kerb edges etc.). Some flux was also redirected by the over reflector, forming a much larger symmetric distribution around the lantern.

The Holophane Duo-Dome comprised of two interlocking pieces of prismed glassware. The outer dome carried the vertical prisms and controlled the flux in azimuth; the inner dome carried horizontal prisms and therefore controlled the flux in latitude. Whilst two pieces of glass made the refractor large and heavy, and caused extra light loss (due to the flux having to traverse two air-glass-air boundaries), the Duo-Dome was extremely suited for open lanterns as the refractor had entirely smooth outer faces which simplified cleaning and maintenance.

Different sized Duo-Dome refractors were required for different wattages of tungsten filament bulb. In the case of the Worthing, the 4607 refractor dome was the most commonly used. Control of the elevation of the main beam required different inner domes, so they were marked with the beam angle measured from the vertical. 75o was the most popular, suggesting conformance with the uniform distribution system (BS 307:1927).

The provision for focusing was extremely poor: the continuous focusing system was error prone, compounded that adjustment required removal of the refractor assembly (which was itself the only guide to correct focusing).




The BLEECO 677 In My Collection

facing profile

This is the standard BLEECO Worthing lantern, once very popular on the south coast and around Sussex. Examples could still be found lighting the streets in the 1990s but the lantern is very rare now.

(Apparently this lantern and its original bracket used to stand on Brighton Pier. The pier was lit with BLEECO Worthings until the 1990s, but I doubt such provenance. I do believe that it originiated from Brighton though).




front profile

Despite being installed outside for over half a century (probably in a salty damp atmosphere), the lantern was in extremely good condition.




trailing profile

This was the later 1950s version of the lantern as the Holophane Duo-Dome is supported at the neck of the glassware and not by metal lugs supporting it from below. This was a specification of the revised BS 1788:1951 so the lantern probably dates from post 1951. The lantern originally took a 60W GLS single coil bulb. However it's been fitted with a 100W GLS single coil bulb as I don't have the correct bulb type in smaller wattages.




canopy

Like most BLEECO lanterns, there are no identifying marks on the lantern's canopy. Formed of cast-iron, the canopy has two taps for two copper screws on which are threaded wing nuts to support the over reflector and refractor assembly.




pedestrian view

The spun enamel secondary reflector is in excellent condition. There was some rusting around the holes but this has been quickly repaired.




vertical

This BLEECO Worthing is fitted with a Holophane Duo-Dome 4607 refractor which has a beam angle of 75° from the downward vertical and 2-way non-axial distribution (which appears to be the most common version). This suggests the lantern adhered to the uniform distribution system (BS 307:1927).

It's been painted green as this was the colour used by Brighton Council.




interior

To focus the bulb, the threaded bulb holder is screwed into the lantern canopy to the required height and then locked with a nut. This continuous focusing system was required due to the variety of bulb sizes available in the 1930s and 1940s, and the errors in tolerance between the bulb holder (mounted to the canopy) and the refractor (mounted to the refractor assembly, mounted to the reflector, mounted to the canopy).

It's a poor system as the refractor has to be removed to adjust the bulb height against the refractor (which you'd just removed!).

The lantern's been fitted to a BLEECO Brighton Bracket.