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liverpool leads the way

Originally published in: Public Lighting Vol. 18, No. 76, September 1953
© Institution of Lighting Engineers

The lantern illustrated here was eventually sold as the GEC Z8580.

The first four decorative Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lanterns designed and built by the GEC for the Liverpool Pier Head seen against the background of the Royal Liver Building

Decorative Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lanterns designed and built by the GEC for the Liverpool Pier Head seen against the background of the Royal Liver Building

Decorative Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lanterns designed and built by the GEC for the Liverpool Pier Head seen against the background of the Royal Liver Building

The first section of a cold cathode fluorescent lighting scheme switched on for the first time at the beginning of September at the Pier Head, Liverpool, was one of the installations inspected by members and delegates at the recent Conference during the Lighting Tour. Believed to be the first street-lighting installation in the world to employ vertical cold cathode fluorescent lanterns, the scheme marks the beginning of a new phase in exterior decorative illumination. Since the area selected by the Liverpool City Lighting Committee for this pioneer development is not only Liverpool's own front door but also one of the gateways to Britain, visitors from overseas whose ships berth at night in Liverpool will now be given on arrival an impressive reminder of Britain's lead in the illuminating engineering field.

The area, which feeds the Victoria Pier on the River Mersey, is some 120 yards wide and 250 yards long, and is backed on the land side by the familiar skyline of the Liver, Cunard and Dock Board buildings. The complete scheme which will employ 50 new lanterns has been temporarily held up pending decisions on the positioning of bus loading points. The first six lanterns, however, have already been installed between the Liver Building and the Floating Roadway, which marks the Northern boundary of the Pier Head. The General Electric Co. Ltd., designed and built the cold cathode lanterns employed, and the Liverpool City Lighting Dept., under Mr. C. C. Smith, A.M.I.E.E., F.I.E.S., was responsible for their layout and installation.

The decision to instal cold cathode equipment was largely influenced by the maintenance factor, for in the Pier Head area high winds are encountered even in relatively calm weather conditions. Inclement weather makes work on street lighting lanterns virtually impossible. Cold cathode lanterns combine nearly all the characteristics required for easy maintenance. They have no complicated starter equipment and operate efficiently even under fluctuating voltage conditions. Most important of all, the use of Osram cold cathode fluorescent tubes, which have an average tube life of 15,000 hours, makes possible the construction of a street-lighting lantern without doors and hinges, which can be sealed for long periods without attention. It is unlikely that it will be necessary to open the lanterns at all for 3½ years. Maintenance will be carried out by removing the complete lantern to the Lighting Department workshops.

Technical Details

The new GEC lantern is designed for post-top mounting at a column height of 15-24 ft. and at a spacing of 100 to 150 ft. In this installation the columns are 24 ft. high, giving a light centre approximately 27 ft. above the ground. In light output the lantern, which houses five 67½ W. Osram cold cathode fluorescent tubes, each in the form of a U, is approximately equivalent to a similar lantern, employing four 5-ft. 80 W. hot cathode fluorescent tubes or a main-road lantern with a 400 W. mercury lamp. Each cold cathode tube has an average light output of 35 lumens per watt throughout a life of 15,000 hours. By virtue of its colour rendering and appearance the lantern, which has a low surface brightness, is suitable for civic centres, main shopping areas and for promenade lighting at coastal resorts, as well as for broad roads up to 40 ft. wide.

It is built around a central steel tube screwed into a spigot cap at the lower end carrying a detachable finial at the upper end. The top of the spigot cap is enlarged to the full diameter of the lantern, and carries the transformers required to operate the tubes. An aluminium case protects the transformers and carries a Sorbo rubber gasket in a channel in its upper edge to make a seating for the "Perspex" cylinder. The main part of the length of the lantern is a reeded opal "Perspex" cylinder. At the top, a spun cover seats on to the cylinder and is held in place by the finial.

The central tube carries two spiders, one near the transformers and one near the top of the lantern. These are provided with glass insulated clips carrying the fluorescent tubes. The electrode ends of the tubes are inside the top spinning of the lantern, and the high-tension leads pass down the outside of the central tube to the secondaries of the transformers.

All high-tension leads are contained within the lantern and three safety devices are fitted, one of which comes into operation as the top spinning is lifted off, while a second, near the transformers, operates as the cover over the transformers is removed. The third disconnects the supply if any electrical fault develops inside the lantern.

Components: "Perspex" Cylinder, Finial, Spun Cover, and Spigot Cap into which is screwed a central steel tube with spiders carrying fluorescent tubes in glass insulted clips

© Institution of Lighting Engineers