165. Southam Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire Located on what was formerly the original road but in later years served solely as the access to the Noral / Alcoa / SAPA aluminium products factory after the road was realigned, stands a Revo 'Moseley' cast iron column supporting a swan neck bracket and 'Magnalite' C8717 directional lantern, also made by Revo. Although the presence of this lantern makes the installation rare anyway, what adds a huge additional amount of rarity is the fact that the lantern is fitted with a 45 W SOI/H lamp; a type that was discontinued in 1966, meaning that the lantern has lain abandoned for around half a century at time of writing (July 2015). The lantern is likely to have last been used at around the time when the road realignment occurred - it was presumably intended to be removed as part of this work, but was either forgotten or prevented from being removed by being situated behind the factory's perimeter fence by then. With the factory now closed and the majority of the site demolished, the installation's future hangs in the balance - it is at times such as this that I wish that I had a street lighting access platform! Incidentally, a couple of the factory's notable products over the years include components used in the Spitfire aircraft during the Second World War, and the door tread plates on London Underground's former Metropolitan line 'A' Stock trains, dating from 1960/62.

Extensive tree growth surrounds the installation...but for something this rare, it wasn't going to stop me from taking pictures!

 

The Philips-made lamp not only looks to be intact; it also looks relatively unused. An identical-looking (but unused) lamp exists in James Hooker's collection.

 

Oddly, the panels directly above the figured glass reflectors are missing. This has caused the silver material applied to the glass to wear away, allowing them to become transparent. Although cracked, the glass appears to be intact within the lantern.

 

The missing panels provide an interesting view when looking directly up at the lantern.

 

In order to avoid potential patent infringements with rival company ESLA, whose method of directing the luminous flux involved a mosaic of mirrored tiles arranged in rows, Revo used one piece of glass per lantern 'wing' that was curved to match the contours of the lantern. Although this method is arguably more inventive, it poses an issue for collectors trying to restore the lanterns these days, as replacing broken or missing glass in these is a very daunting task.

 

The Magnalite range also never managed to achieve the popularity of ESLA's own products, making any surviving examples these days very few and far between.

 

I wonder when this column's inspection door was last opened!

 
 

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