1. Many Thorn Alpha 1s never had photocell sockets in them. (At least not in Derby.) The photocell was instead mounted at the top of the column (the columns and brackets were at 90° to each other). I believe this was the case to allow easier access from the photocell to the control gear in the column. Occasionally, where an Alpha 1 has been replaced, the old photocell has not been removed from the top of the column. As many modern lanterns now have their own photocells on them, the old photocell is no longer necessary and is only left to stop water from getting into the photocell socket. (Some do not have a cell on them in this place because they have been capped with a plastic cover.) The photo below is an example of where the cell has been retained. The lantern if you are wondering is a Thorn Alpha 4 90 Watt SOX, and it is located on Station Rd, in Mickleover. The reason for this lantern's installation was because the original Alpha 1 fell off the column and smashed on the pavement below!
Following this, many people have asked that I put up a picture of an Alpha 1 still in-situ with a photocell at the end of its bracket, so what better column to choose than the next one along! (Plus I know a little about this column's recent history!).
In late 2003, the Opticell was hanging off this Alpha 1, and Jeremy had the callout to go and put it right. Unfortunately, the old Opticell's securing pins were broken, so this lantern's remaining in place was in the balance as to whether or not he could find a replacement. Luckily, one was found, and so the Alpha 1 was retained. Jeremy fitted an old Royce Thompson thermal cell in the socket, as this is the kind of cell that such installations would have used when new.
The lamp in this Alpha 1 is a story within itself. On the 19th August 2003, there was a power cut in the Derby area. I was included in this unfortunately. To let me know when the power had returned, I plugged in the Z9454. However, when power was returned, the RCD tripped. I unplugged the Z9454 and reset the RCD. All was well, so I switched the Z9454 on again, and the RCD tripped again. Something strange was going on. I swapped the Z9454's connection to my own Alpha 1's, plugged in and reset the RCD. The Alpha 1 was fine and did not cause a trip, meaning that the gear was not at fault. I swapped the Z9454's lamp with the Alpha 1s, and then reconnected the Z9454. This time, the lantern was fine and had no problems, however when I tried to switch on the Alpha 1 this time, the RCD tripped, so the fault was obviously with the lamp itself. I left it then for a few months, until one day when I asked Jeremy if there was any way to test it out. He said that he would try it out in an installation to see if it was truly kaput or if it was just that it was drawing a slightly higher current than normal, which my RCD didn't like. Soon after, he received the call about the hanging Opticell, and upon going up to repair or remove it, discovered that the existing lamp had been damaged. He now had no better reason to fit my lamp, and so when the replacement Opticell had been obtained, he fitted my lamp and switched on. It struck up without any fault, so it must have been my RCD to blame. So now, my lamp lights a section of a Derbyshire road! This story appears very coincidental, but it's completely true!
UPDATE - 26th October 2004 - The Station Rd Alpha 1s will start being replaced tomorrow! It has been found that light levels along parts of the road do not meet modern standards and so new lanterns are to be installed with 'white' lamps fitted. Column heights will go up from 8 m to 10 m. (An inspection on the 27th revealed that the lamps are actually SON - so not 'white' at all then!)
This picture, taken on the 27th October, shows the Derby City Council HIAB truck getting ready to yank this column out of the ground. Unfortunately, I couldn't stop then, but I will attempt to photograph as many replacements as possible.
(The column in this picture is not the one that Jeremy repaired - this was removed on the 3rd November 2004.
Pictures of the replacement work can be seen here.
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