15. Alfreton Rd.  By some industrial buildings until late 2011 was a Stanton concrete column with an Atlas Alpha 8 twin mercury lamp fitted. (A pity that the road wasn't called 'Alfreton Avenue' as then it would be the Alfreton Avenue Atlas Alpha 8 - a great piece of alliteration if ever I heard one!)  Even when I first discovered this rare installation in 2003, the concrete was badly spalling at the joint of the bracket and column, leaving the exposed steel in the bracket open to the elements. I never knew the lantern to work, though at least one lamp could just about be seen inside; however, the clouding on the bowl made this difficult. The lantern was designed in order that a 400 W mercury lamp was situated at one end, and a 250 W at the other. The idea was that both lamps would activate at dusk, and then the 400 W would be extinguished at about midnight, leaving the 250 W to burn until dawn. This obviously gave the added advantage that if one lamp failed, the other would still hopefully remain lit, at least part of the night. The lanterns were usually controlled on a special time switch with dual switching levers - one for both lamp circuits; however, if one was ever used in this particular column, it no longer remains to this day (the column door is missing, meaning that the inside of the base compartment is perfectly visible, and the old gear is very exposed to the elements).

Such lanterns were very common in Derby's city centre until at least 1974, but by 1984, they had all been removed and replaced with single lamp Thorn Alpha 3s with 400 W lamps, which were found to be perfectly adequate for lighting the streets, meaning that this Alpha 8 may have been the last installed example in Derby city; maybe even the County.

The reason behind this installation's complete disappearance is not known, though the severely spalled bracket may have played a contributory role in the column's demise.

The column is leaning by a couple of degrees - though I'm more worried about that spalled bracket.

The lamp at the back of the lantern is the only one that can still be seen.

The gear looks very old - the ballasts would originally have had labels above the various terminals but these have worn off over time.


This picture shows some Atlas Alpha 8s in 1974:

This photograph is on the main Ring Road, St Alkmund's way. The lanterns must have been very new, as the bowls show no signs of clouding. Atlas/Thorn Alpha 3s were used up until the mid-1990s on this stretch, followed by Philips SGS 204s and Trafficvisions. Now, the section is lit with OrangeTEK 'TerraLED' LED lanterns; see here for details. None of the original columns remain however. The fluorescent lights under the bridge are also no longer present - the bridge is not lit at all these days. This photograph is copyright Frank Rodgers.

I have an Atlas Alpha 8 in my collection. Click here to read a description of it.


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