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BLEECO Worthing (200-300W)

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 (200-300W GLS)
Date: Circa 1920s - 1950s
Dimensions: Width: 18", Height: 11"
Light Distibution: Uniform Distribution
Refractor: Holophane Duo-Dome 4607 (80°)
Lamp: 200-300W GLS




History

The only recorded appearance of this lantern was in a BLEECO catalogue from 1934. Named the Worthing, it was the largest of a family of lanterns, and took a 200-300W 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.

Unlike its smaller sibling, the larger Worthing had a scalloped, decorated canopy made from two separate castings. It also had an exterior lamp focusing mechanism; two knurled nuts on the top of canopy allowed the lampholder bridge to be positioned within the lantern.





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 larger 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.




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 Worthing In My Collection

facing profile

This lantern was rescued from the skip at Brighton Council's depot. It was complete and in relatively good condition having been sawn off its original bracket.




front profile

These pictures show the lantern after restoration and painted in its original green colour. It's fitted with a Holophane Duo-Dome 4607 refractor with 80° 2-way asymmetric non-axial distribution.




trailing profile

The lantern was a larger version of the popular Worthing lantern and was designed for 200-300W GLS lamps. However, I've fitted this lantern with a 100W GLS lamp.




canopy

The canopy is made of two cast iron sections with knurled nuts on the top to allow the bulb holder assembly to be moved up and down, allowing correct focusing of the bulb.

Like all BLEECOs, the canopy has neither the maker's name nor any model number.




pedestrian view

The spun enamel secondary reflector is in excellent condition. It supports the refractor assembly and is in turn supported to the two-piece canopy by three brass wing nuts.




vertical

The lantern has been fully restored and fitted to a BLEECO Brighton And Hove type bracket. This was a popular bracket-and-lantern configuration in Brighton.




interior

The lampholder is fitted to a central bridge which engages with the screwed threads of either knurled nut assembly. Turning the knurled nuts up or down would cause the lampholder bridge to move as well. Both sides of the central bridge could be moved therefore allowing the lamp to levelled.

The mechanism was seized due to corrosion and lack of use but it only required some heat and some penetrating oil to get it working again.