Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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CHIS Lamp posts

Maggie Shapland

3 lantern light in Alma Rd



The first exterior gas lighting appeared in Birmingham in 1802, Pall Mall in London was the first thoroughfare to be lit. Prior to this, streets were lit with oil lamps integrated into area railings. Owners of larger residences were often ordered to provide lanterns to help passes by see their way. Evidence of lamp holders are still to be seen, such as in Richmond Terrace, Cornwallis Crescent and The Mall.

In 1815 a decision was made to form a company ‘for lighting the streets, shops and other buildings of Bristol with gas’; by the end of 1817 all the principal streets were supplied, with 1050 lamps in use by 1823. In 1824 a few gaslights and night-constables were established in Clifton as a result of the Lighting and Watching Act. By 1850 nearly 2,000 lights were in use; by 1881 there were 4,274, improved due to mantle development. The Victoria Rooms’ three lamp group were 300-candle power.

In 1898 electric 'arc' lamps extended to main thoroughfares in Clifton, having been used from 1893. In 1900 there were 311, by 1911, 695. 48 of these tall posts survive in 17 streets, including two arc lights in the Mall (one a replica after an incident with a lorry). Clifton has 52 Grade II listed lamp posts (38 tall, 21 short).

Clifton has a fascinating collection of historic street furniture, some of which is listed. Street furniture, including letter boxes, lamp standards, and other details, enlivens the street scene but also reflects the history of the area. The appropriate maintenance and protection of this is important, as is the need to prevent modern street clutter detracting from its setting. Lamp posts

64 per cent of the streets have cast iron lamp posts. The majority were made by Bristol foundries. Many have traditional lanterns. Canygne Square and Cobblestone Mews still have lights lit by gas. They are a feature of Clifton and residents quite rightly get upset when removed.

Many of the lamp posts in Clifton are listed, particularly the tall arc posts. Indeed BS8 has more listed posts than anywhere else in Bristol

postcode Count
bs1 Centre 31
bs2 Horfield 1
bs4 St Phillips 1
bs6 St Andrews 1
bs8 Clifton 62
bs10 Henbury 5
bs16 Stapleton 2
The loss or poor maintenance of traditional street furniture undermines the quality and special interest of the area as once lost, traditional street furniture is unlikely to be replaced.

Protection of Street Lighting

In January 2015, the Building Conservation Directory said:
Listing varies radically across the UK. A quick search for `lamp post' in the National Heritage List for England reveals 400 entries for lamp posts, 88 of which are in or around Bristol. In Wales there are 29 list entries of which over half are in Llandudno. In Scotland, on the other hand, there are 800 list entries for lamp standards and holders. Many of our great Victorian cities have none.

In Bristol the high priority given to the historic streetscape is due to the tireless commitment of a community group, the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society. Initially consulted on a conservation area appraisal, CHIS developed a system for recording the different types of lamp post found locally, enabling a comprehensive audit of surviving examples in the conservation area. As a result, their protection was enshrined in conservation area policy in 2010, and the system has been adopted in neighbouring Redland. CHIS now works closely with the local authority to ensure surviving examples are at least retained in situ, and salvaged examples in the yard of the lighting department are being reinstated in key locations where possible.

While Georgian light fittings are generally well protected by listing, and are usually in private ownership, Victorian street lights remain at risk and their numbers are dwindling, particularly in England and Wales. Urgent action is required to secure their future.

Full article

Street Light Survey and Strategy in a Conservation Area

Articles written by Maggie Shapland have been published in the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society Journal.

Survey summary of all the lamp posts and lanterns in BS8

Lamp post stories

Sion Hill Lamp Post

This is a 5 year saga to get a listed lamp post repaired and put back. Delays were caused by the insurance company not admitting liability. I thank the Lighting Department for their perseverance. The full saga was written up in the August 2015 CHIS newsletter.

Clifton Down Road

More detail about this problem
October 2015: The Council is receiving serious complaints about the loss of street lighting at the junction of Boyces Ave. The cast iron lighting column was removed in September 2014, and temporary work lights put up. When the hoarding was added in August 2014 the temporary lighting was removed. The Council has told the developer where the lighting units should be placed. Each of the six units should provide illumination L.E.D. equivalent to a 100 watt lamp. They are required to do so by the conditions of the hoarding licence.
September 2014: CHIS is keeping a close watch on what is happening at the Clifton Down Road development and were actively involved on site to prevent another lamp post being removed.
Kings Court lamp post
Andy Rugman (lighting technician) scratching his head while Brian and Maggie and the Ellises talk to the developer
Kings Court lamp post
Maggie and the Ellis sisters looking relieved as the street light is put back
Kings Court lamp post
Original Cast Iron Street lamp back and looking lovely. Just need the other one back

The lighting technicians were unhappy that Kings Road and Boyces Avenue would be unlit and that temporary lights should have been requested in their place.

We have subsequently been told by Peter Tisdale from THAT Property Group that the lamp posts were being removed prior to the demolition of the buildings so that they could be safely stored and in due course replaced. This was a somewhat premature act because appropriate planning permission had not been granted and it would be unlawful to demolish without that permission.

Christchurch Road lamp post

Our longest saga- started me off on the interest to preserve our lamp posts. This post even appears in the Clifton CHaracter Appraisal to show where not to put a modern post. This lamp post has led to many emails, many appearances at Council meetings. Thanks Steve and Andy for finally resolving this!
Momentous day!
23 July 2013: The temporary post in Christchurch Rd finally removed and replaced by a far more suitable one!
Christchurch This incongruous light outside grade II* building and adjacent to a grade II* terrace, replaced a steel post and traditional lantern paid for by residents in Nov 07- supposed to be temporary but still there in 2013. It breaks lighting strategy of a Conservation Area in relation to listed buildings

Suspension Bridge lights

March 2013: cast iron lamposts being installed on the suspension bridge.
In August 2012: planning application 12/03632/F | To install 6 no. supplementary footpath lamp standards to the Clifton approach of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. | Suspension Bridge Suspension Bridge Road Bristol
12/P/1434/F: Installation of 6 footpath lamp standards to the Leigh Woods approach to the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Clifton Suspension Bridge Bridge Road Leigh Woods BS8 3PA (N. Somerset Council)
lamp posts bristol foundry lamp post gurnsey lamp post jones lamp post

Virtually all Bristol cast lamp posts have Bristol manufacturers plates on which is great because they can then be dated. Since these posts have been restored their plates are very clear. You will see that there are five posts by the Bristol Foundry Company who made the biggest variety of lamp posts from 1881 to 1958, one by CE Gurney (1870-1886) who started off as a tin plate worker and ironmonger and progressed to a fern case and lamp manufacturer, one by Jones (1874-90) who was an iron founder, and one indeterminate one that is very likely to be Edward Crawford (1881 to 1912)

Removal of grade II listed lamp posts

Always seems to take 3 years to get listed lamp posts repaired and returned

Removal of grade II listed lamp post in Clifton Park

The reference and picture can be seen on Images of England and described BRISTOL ST5773NW CLIFTON PARK, Clifton 901-1/2/804 (South West side) Gas lamp post approximately 50 metres south of RC Cathedral (not included) GV II Gas lamp post. Mid C19. Cast-iron. A moulded base with foliate end to a reeded shaft, ornate switch bars and a square lantern. Converted to electricity.
I also enclose my own pictures of it to show what a glorious post it was.
listed lamp post
Note the fine detail
listed lamp post
note the feeder pillar
listed lamp post
ornate ladder rest and traditional lantern
listed lamp post
replaced by another later cast iron post with modern light.
There are only six posts like this in BS8- four in St Andrews Churchyard (adapted for the lime trees), two on Christchurch Green (one without the top and the other with a historic top), and one in Canygne Square- they are very early and date from the 1860s.
The lighting department was sent my paper on cast iron lamp posts of Clifton that was published this year, so they would have been aware of its age.
I only noticed that it had gone when I was participating in a photographic project for the Bristol Museum Service. I took several Council officials to show them the lamp post and we were all horrified that it had gone.

Princess Victoria Street problems

10-19 June 09: Steel Post replaced by an iron post outside 104 Princess Victoria Street but traditional lantern vanished and replaced by an incongruous light, AND traditional lantern and wall bracket vanished outside 51 Princess Victoria Street with no warning. I sent a letter with a photos of every post in the street since every post has a traditional lantern (which we had paid for) or globe (on listed lamp post). Many residents complained and phoned. It transpired that the wall bracket was cracked, the steel post had had a hole in it so needed replacing, and the lanterns needed attention. All sorted out by 19th June and promises that we will be informed of future work schedules.
lamp post
Tuesday night at 104 -fully functioning traditional lantern
lamp post
Wednesday night at 104- incongruous light on "new" cast iron post
wall bracket
before Friday at 51 observe the wall bracket and traditional lantern
wall bracket
bracket removed. There are only 14 wall brackets in BS8 so they are rare. New feeder pillar installed
So thank you lighting department! They are listening after all.

Lamp post in the Mall

arc light
broken light
arc light
what it used to look like
arc light post
new post
arc light post
new light
The historic lamp replacement has been made in Poland. It has cost £50,000 which the city council hope to recover from the insurance claim.
More pictures of lamp being erected
The lamp was knocked down by a delivery driver May 2006 and was in four or five pieces so could not be saved. There is a twin lamp in Caledonia Place (repainted same week to match new one!). Its unique appearance is down to the fact that it was one of the first street lights to be powered by electricity rather than gas. The Polish company will be here on Thursday for the ceremony. We thank Darren and his team in the lighting department for all their hard work

Examples of how lamp posts contribute to Good Streetscape

All show the area is cared for.
Paving, signs and lights should be sympathetic with the area. The residents of Princess Victoria Street had to pay £50 per household in the mid eighties to have
Clifton lamp post
better looking lights put up- they are nice but a bit dim!
Clifton lamp post
The old lamp standards in the Mall badly need repainting.
Sadly this 1893 lamp post was backed into by a lorry in May 2006 and has been smashed. A replica has now been made -June 2008
Clifton lamp post
Look at the base of the lamps.
Clifton lamp post Clifton lamp post
Broken lamp base being measured for repair.

Clifton lamp post
Experimental gas light at the end of Royal York Crescent
Clifton lamp post
Caledonia Place has original lights.
Clifton lamp post
Lamps with flowers

Light in the window above the door

Why put a lamp post in the middle of a crossing? making it hard to cross if you have a buggy or wheel chair

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