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concrete columns and brackets

The first concrete columns and brackets were made in the 1930s, but they really became popular after the Second World War when steel and cast-iron was in short supply. Coupled with their durability and lack of maintenance (no painting requires), concrete was embraced wholeheartedly by many lighting authorities.

By the 1980s, concrete was starting to lose ground. More bulky than steel counterparts, and with many existing installations starting to spall badly (although this was mostly down to incorrect installation and keeping columns in service long after their twenty five year life), concrete was waning. With some well documented collapses of brackets and columns in service, the death knell was sounded.

The last concrete columns and brackets were installed in the UK in the early 1990s. They are no longer made, and local authorities are now actively sleeving and replacing them.

Stanton 8G with GEC Z9454

This (now rare) double armed bracket was probably installed in the 1960s, along with a pair of the ever-popular GEC Z954 lanterns. Spotted lurking in the Purley/Cheam area, it was a chance spotting of this column from the train that lead Lee Gale to write his piece for The Independent.

It's potential fate was hinted at in the article and the column was removed shortly afterwards.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Stanton 8B with GEC Z9454

Whilst Stanton 8Fs and 8Gs can be found dotted around Purley and Cheam, the mainstay for a staggered installation was the more decorative 8B (as shown above). Many still exist and are in superb condition given their age.

© Picture: Lee Gale


Stanton 6Bs

Found in the grounds of a semi-derelict sub-station in Adwick-le-Street, Doncaster, these Stanton 6Bs are still completely intact - unlike the smashed lanterns they're supporting.

Concrete columns and brackets are often found lighting the grounds of sub-stations; and after spotting an ancient installation of GEC equipment in one recently, they could be the last hiding places of concrete columns after they've been swept away from the streets.

© Pictures: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilites columns with ELECO Golden Ray

These Concrete Utilites double armed Highway columns are about to disappear. Standing in Southwark Street, London, their replacements have now been erected on the pathways, leaving the concrete columns along on their centre islands.

The lanterns are ELECO 90W SOX Goldenrays.

Now removed

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilites columns with ELECO Golden Ray

Another view of the same installation, this time a lone single armed Highway.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilites columns with GEC Z5590

This old 1960s column, bracket and lantern can be found in Sandell Street, Waterloo (just across the road from the station). The swan-necked bracket and column are absolutely mint with no sign of spalling or damage - a rare example now.

The lantern is a GEC Z5590 and the polycarbonate bowl has gone yellow with age.

Now removed

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilities Avenue 4D

Lurking in a condemded sports ground, this old Concrete Utilities Avenue 4D column and bracket has rudely been fitted with a small tungsten floodlight. These old lattice brackets were first produced in the late 1930s, with production continuing through to the 1950s.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilities Avenue 2D

Designed in 1938, this concrete column and bracket was probably installed in the 1940s or early 1950s and is in extremely good condition. Found in Fir Tree Road, Epsom, it probably originally held a tungsten lantern before being converted to LPS in the 1970s/1980s with this Thorn Beta 5.

Around 15 examples still survive along this stretch although the modern hockey stick style columns and lanterns are really starting to take over.

© Picture: Lee Gale

"Historically this area was Banstead rather than Epsom & Ewell. Yes, it would originally have had a GLS lantern - and there were two, and in a few cases three, successive generations of them."

"When I first knew the area in the early 1950s these lamps were standard throughout Banstead. The original green painted lanterns were still there. They were two piece hat shaped open lanterns with refractors. I haven't been able to identify them from any illustrated on your site and I am fairly sure the design was a 1930s one. They had been allowed to deteriorate, perhaps because of lack of maintenance during WW2, and were found in three different forms:

  • Complete, with refractor
  • Refractor missing
  • Refractor and shade missing, leaving a minimal fitting with a tungsten bulb stuck in the end of it.

"There were quite a lot of the third type. Clearly this was unsatisfactory and c. 1954-5 I remember seeing at least one replacement with an aluminium finished enclosed lantern that looked like an upturned ice cream cone, probably an Eleco Letchworth. Then around 1956-7 the whole lot, including this one, were replaced with new enclosed tungsten lanterns which were GEC Plastifactors or something similar. I assume that these remained in use until they were replaced with Thorn Beta 5s."

"See Francis Firth website for an example" - Peter Rivet

I definintely remember the final tungsten lanterns; they were the modern version of the GEC Plastifractor namely the Z5580 BP.

Stanton 8F

"I took the two toddlers for a drive this afternoon and headed to Epsom to try and photograph the last few remaining Stanton 8Fs with original concrete brackets. There are plenty of 8F columns standing in Epsom (Epsom Road) and Cheam (London Road), but with steel brackets - I only counted four with concrete brackets. Parking is extremely difficult on these main roads, and I didn't want to catch a 60 fine in order to photograph a 1950s lighting column, so I've only shot one so far."

"The pictured 8F stands on an old stretch of Epsom Road which is no longer in use as an A-road. Epsom Road now leads directly onto the Ewell Bypass, so now there are two Epsom Roads estranged by a short stretch of pavement and grass. This 8F has been marooned somewhat. The lighting conditions were dire - milky sunshine - and the backdrop was thick trees. Worse still, the local comprehensive had just kicked out its gangsta rappers so I was a bit embarrassed photographing a street light and grabbed what I could before scarpering. I pass this 8F a lot, and think it's only survived in its original state because it no longer lights the main road, merely a stretch of ex-main road which now acts as a driveway to three rather large properties."

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilities Avenue 2D Arc 2

"While driving in a large, well-to-do 1960s housing estate called West Bessacarr Doncaster, I came across some columns which I believe are CU Avenue 2D Arc 2's. The housing around dates from the late 60s and early 70s, so these ancient-looking concrete columns, whose design dates from 1941 according to your site, seem a touch out of place. I believe the road is Lindrick Close. A number of roads branching from Stoops Lane in West Bessacarr boast such columns. As I had a car full of relatives, my photography had to be quick, but the results aren't bad. There was great, early morning light and I was very pleased to have spotted them. I presume they were late versions of an old design - probably among the last 2Ds to have been made. CU columns are unusual in Doncaster, which was staunch Stanton."

The lanterns are GEC Z5580s.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilities Avenue 2D Arc 2

"A swathe of streets in Palmers Green in North London still has concrete lighting, but I've already noticed some brand new thin, black columns are being planted nearby, so suspect the days of the concretes are numbered. This is Old Park Road, and from top to bottom features a full installation of 2D Arc 2s. There are similar columns on nearby Fox Lane."

The Thorn Beta 5 lanterns are not original and were probably installed in the 1970s-1980s.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilities Avenue 3D Arc 2

"I've started boozing in Ye Olde Cherry Tree, the pub in this picture, and I was sitting by the window one Friday night when I spotted what I thought at first was a Stanton 6B. On closer inspection, I believed it was a Concrete Utilities design - I'm almost certain it's a 3D Arc 2. I came across four or five while driving round a few weeks later. These must be extremely rare now. This is quite a nice area of North London - The Green in Southgate - and I think this lighting column has been kept purely due to its ornamental appearance. It's a lovely lamp-post! The pub's not bad too."

This is the big-brother of the column previously pictured. The Avenue 3D Arc 2 was introduced in 1940 but this column was probably erected in the 1950s. The lantern, a GEC Z9454/64 is probably not original.

© Picture: Lee Gale

Concrete Utilities Highway X

"On High Street in Southgate there's a collection of CU Highways. Not as exotic as the nearby 3D Arc 2, but pretty ancient all the same. The lighting was pretty bad for photos, as you can see. It might be worth a scout round again one bright weekend morning"

The Highway X appeared in the mid 1950s and this installation probably dates from that time. A GEC Z9454/64 is fitted to the nearest column, but an original GEC Z9450 can be seen on the column immediately behind it.

© Picture: Lee Gale