mailing list
site map

Automatic Light Controlling Company, Ltd.

British, Foreign And Colonial Automatic Light Controlling Company, Ltd.
100 Holdenhurst Road

Firm founded in 1905.

"A member of the Bournemouth Council, the late Councillor John Gunning, as the inventor of the first clock driven street lamp gas lighting controller; this has resulted in a small flourishing industry in the town, manufacturing gas controllers and electric time switches." - 1938 Paper

It was about 50 years ago when the idea of a 'Mechanical Lamplighter', or 'Extinguisher', was causing Mr. John Gunning, many a night's lost of rest - for it was then that he patented and brought out his first Controller. The introduction of this 'Snuffer' was not easy going for, with the exception of a few gas engineers of the day, it was not generally appreciated that the new Controller would eventually be the Pioneer of Public Lighting Control. A company was formed to produce this extinguisher and this, coupled with the Incandescent Mantle, gave public lighting a major place in the everyday life of a community.

This early type did not do away with Lamplighters, because they still had to make the nightly trip to light up. His duty then included the winding of the mechanism by pulling a short chain with this torch pole, this action turned on the gas which was ignited by the tour. The clockwork was made to turn a dial to which a finger was attached at a predetermined position, so that after the clock had run for a given period, this finger struck the gas tap, and turned it off. Although this Controller did not cut-out the cost of Lamplighters, it did ensure the gas beign turned off at a fixed time, and the saving in this respect alone soon proved its commercial advantages for general use. From the date of its inception, imrpovemetns in the controller developed to meet the requirements of both lighting and extinguishing. Also the earliest type controller was made for use before the Mantle was introduced and the open type gas flame burner was the one means of using gas. - Public Lighting #43, 1946

In 1932, are boasting "a worldwide reputation for simplicity of construction, accuracy, reliability and efficiency of action." - APLE Exhibition Catalogue 1932

They exhibited a full range of their well-known Gunfire Gas Controllers suitable for all types of lanterns for street lighting and their Electric Gunfire time switches at the 1936 APLE Conference in Cheltenham. - Public Lighting #3, 1936

In 1937 they are exhibiting in Folkestone which was one of the earliest Boroughs to adopt Automatic Street Lighting Control. - APLE Conference Programme 1937

The display of 1938 includes many of the Gunfire products. In the Gas Section, a comprehensive range of Gas Controllers are shown including 15, 21 or 40-day gradual and quick action types including a compact new model. On the Electric side various models are exhibited, either hand-wound 15 to 40-day run or self-starting synchronous motor driven types. This includes a new SS synchronous model, complete with astronomical dial. - APLE Conference Programme 1938

The "Pilot" Electric Igniter was added to the gas section in 1939 and the "GF" time switch was being promoted as a new electrical time switch solution. - APLE Conference Programme 1939

During the "Black-out", the company waived all hire contracts for their equipment. They sent the following letter to their customers: "We have decided under the circumstances to make NO CHARGE for the hire of Controllers and Time Switches out of use owing to hostilities after September 1939, until such time as the restrictions are agains relaxed, but it must be understood that this "Black-out" period be added to the original contract period.." - Public Lighting #17, 1940

A selection of Time Switches and Gas Controllers are being exhibited including the G.F. which was introduced just before the war and proved popular. Special mention is also given to the Gas Controller which has been used for nearly fifty years. All types (upright or suspension) can be supplied in gradual or quick action with quickly detachable clocks. - APLE Conference Programme 1945

Are showing off a wide range of Time Switches and Gas Controllers. Many models on show are used in great numbers by some of the leading Public Lighting authorities. The G.F. model is of particular interest and shows a robust 10 amp A.C. Switch with silver contact, suitable for a wide range of Public Lighting schemes. It is one of the smallest switches on the market and is adaptable for use either in lamp standard bases, watertight cases or for fitting to existing control boxes. - APLE Conference Programme 1946

Gunfire Gas Controllers have now been in use for over 50 years and are still being supplied in large number for home use and overseas. Gunfire Time Switches are also a product and the range now produced specially for street lighting control, give an engineer a choice to meet his urgent needs; the GS and GF models being of special interest to the Public Lighting Engineer. The GF/1 model is described as 'new'. - APLE Conference Programme 1947

APLE Exhibition Catalogue Blackpool 1932
APLE Conference Programme Folkestone 1937
APLE Conference Programme Bournemouth 1938
APLE Conference Programme Glasgow 1939
APLE Conference Programme Glasgow 1945
APLE Conference Programme London 1946
APLE Conference Programme Southport 1947

External Links:
Grace's Guide