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gecs/revos in barnstaple

We used to holiday every year in Barnstaple, and I got to know its rambling GEC/AEI/REVO well. I determined my favourite lanterns and brackets after many visits, and got used to the slow change over the years.

The installation I was familiar with was installed in the 1950s-1960s, often utilitising older gas columns and brackets. It was a glorious mess of shaped cast iron.

It's all gone now - virtually every street light is modern and burning SON.

We stayed in Newport and always walked down Park Lane to get to Rock Park and the centre of the town. It was originally lit with 80W mercury on swan-neck brackets; the first swan necks installed in the 1950s on old gas columns, with some infils added in the 1960s. Strangely, as I walked the route again recently, I found a bizarre attempt to re-create this installation with modern lanterns; and two 1960s 'originals'.

modern replacement #1

My heart sank when I started my walk at the east end of Park Lane, walking westwards. From a distance, it looked like something had survived. However, getting closer revealed a modern lantern, modern bracket, and modern column. Still, it's probably the best match the council could've attempted.

revo prefect #1

This was odd. Again, a modern column, but a REVO 'Question Mark' bracket supported a REVO Prefect.

revo prefect #2

They must've found some REVO Prefects and installed them here because (a) they were old and (b) looked 'right'. However, the glass refractor is missing, and it looks like it's been fitted with SONT. For me, this wasn't right, as Barnstaple was primarily lit with GEC lanterns down its side streets.

gec z5590np #1

Finally, a lantern, bracket and lantern from my youth. This GEC Z5590NP was fitted with a polycarbonate bowl which has gone yellow with age. A swan neck bracket and REVO Woolwich column completes the combination. This was one of the 1960s infil lanterns, placed between the old gas lamp columns.

modern replacement #2

I continued walking. Another modern replacement came into view, another memory gone.

modern replacement #3

Looking at the lantern, it appeared to follow the lines of the GEC Z5580DB.

old cast-iron column #1

However, whilst I couldn't remember the lantern it originally held, the column was one of Barnstaple's old gas columns, complete with the foundry's name cast into the base.

revo prefect #3

Another REVO Prefect on a modern column confirmed that some 'older' lanterns were re-installed here, but the originals were GEC.

gec z5580db #1

Finally, another 1960s original appeared, and it looked unaltered. This, for me, is the perfect combination: a GEC Z5580DB, REVO bracket on a REVO Woolwich column. This is a combination I'm going to recreate in my collection.

revo prefect #4

Moving down, another REVO Prefect appeared, again converted to SONT, and again without its refractor dome.

gec z5590np #2

This was all wrong. Whilst it looks OK, the original cast-iron column stood facing the junction with Park Avenue, which had a small REVO bracket and a GEC Z5580DB. This was probably in the skip now, whilst a replica was recreated and put in the wrong place.

Of course, I'm forgetting the original vandalism in the 1980s, when the GEC Z5580DB was badly replaced with a Thorn Beta 79 and the finial swan off the swan neck to support this side-entry lantern. Even as a child, I thought that was a crap thing to do.

At least this is an attempt to get back to how it was.

revo prefect #5

Right location, wrong streetlight. This was once a GEC Z5590NP with a small bracket and a REVO Woolwich column. A 1960s infil, replaced with something similar, but not right to my purist eyes.

modern replacement #4

This was the last column before Rock Park, and in the 1970s held a GEC Z5580DB on a small REVO bracket and a cast-iron gas column. Another perfect combination.

It was vandalised by the council in the 1980s - finial swan off, Thorn Beta 79 installed at a crazy upsloping angle. I hated it after that.

I realise later that the council converted the street to SON. Those lanterns with base compartments (mainly the 1960s infil with REVO Woolwich columns) could take the new gear. These old columns had no place for it, so a gear-in-head lantern was installed. Hence their selective vandalism in the 1980s.

(But I recall this street being mercury. So where was the gear in this case originally?)

By the 2000s, a swan neck and something that looked like a GEC Z5580DB has been installed again. So, I'm not to shocked, or upset, but this modification. For me, it's a step backwards, and in the right direction.

gec z5580db #2

I walked back, and took some other pictures. Here's the GEC Z5580DB again - a classic in my eyes.

modern replacement #5

Strangely the one road I really remember from my youth was the one chosen by Barnstaple Council to reflect the original 1950s-1960s installation. Being a purist collector, I'd only be satisfied if the original columns, brackets and lanterns were installed - but this is not going to happen. Instead, after the shock that so much had gone, I appauld the council for making a brave attempt to restore the street back to how it was originally - and for the vast majority, it'll look just fine.