197. Grimshaw Lane, Newton Heath, Manchester Situated on the junction of Lord North Street, and continuing along a private roadway leading to the former Park Works of Mather & Platt's Foundry, are a number of 25 ft (8 m) GEC concrete columns dating from the 1950s, with three supporting GEC 'Clearmain' Z8387 'Three-Eighty' 5 ft (1500 mm) fluorescent lanterns; the "Three-Eighty" name representing the three 80 Watt fluorescent lamps that the lanterns accommodated. The foundry closed in 2017, but was immortalised in L.S. Lowry's painting "Going to Work", from 1943 - thus, the lighting does not appear in the painting. Unusually, the columns were supplied on overhead electricity cables, rather than from an underground service.

The first column is just off Grimshaw Lane itself. Just visible in the grass to the right of the column are the remains of the cast iron column that used to be at this location before the concrete replacement arrived.

A small hole is present in this example's Perspex bowl.

The rearmost clip of the Three-Eighty's tapering bowl was undone at the time of photographing, in April 2020.

A "GEC - Made in England" plug is visible at the front of the lantern.

This was the last column on the circuit - the overhead conductors terminate here.

Although the bowl has become translucent with age, at least one lamp is visible inside the lantern, behind the broken piece.

The inspection doors on the columns are very small. I did try to open this one, just to see if anything remained in the base; however, the adjustable spanner that I used was too wide to fit into the gap around the bolt.

While the lanterns attach to a side-entry bracket within the top section of the column, the electrical insulators for the overhead conductors are attached to frames that bolt to the column structure.

Old meets new as this 1950s' time capsule is pictured alongside a 2018 Philips Luma LED lantern situated on Grimshaw Lane.

The lamps are clearly visible when the lantern is viewed from this side - the top two being positioned horizontally at the top of the bowl, and the third being positioned slightly diagonally to match the bowl taper. Fellow collector Bob Cookson has an example of a Three-Eighty in his Collection; click here and scroll down the page to see how the three lamps were positioned.

The lanterns were missing from a number of the columns, and had been since 2009 at least, according to Google Street View.

A small hole was drilled in the column, just above the electrical insulators, and a length of rubber cable passed through, connecting onto the overhead conductors at one end, and the lantern at the other. Notice that the top overhead cable has been cut completely, while the remaining two are hanging down the outside of the column shaft.

This column was in particularly poor condition, with the steel reinforcement bars being visible where the concrete had chipped away.

The remaining two lanterns are seen in this photograph.

The bracket on this example looked to be in rather precarious condition itself - notice that it is leaning forwards in relation to the column.

The lamps are revealed in this close-up.

The lantern looks rather imposing when viewed from the front.

The bowl would hinge to the right, as it appears in this view, as and when maintenance was required.

The same column again, from the other side.

A larger portion of this lantern's bowl was damaged at the back - I did try to picture the innards through the hole, but the tree branches were in the way.

A modern metal halide floodlight had been attached to the third column, suggesting that the Three-Eighties had been decommissioned for some time, even when the foundry was still operating.

The lantern's canopy was missing, exposing the lamp control gear and wiring to the elements.

It wasn't far away, however - this bent piece of curved aluminium on the ground a short distance to the left of the column was the item in question!

Owing to how the side refractors remain relatively transparent, I wonder if the majority of the bowl should be translucent anyway.

The overhead catenary cable to this column appears to have been renewed - probably when the floodlight was installed.

The missing canopy section is plainly evident in this view too.

One of the three ballasts is visible in the close-up.

The replacement wiring does not continue after this column.

This column has exposed rebar too - adding the floodlight may have cracked (or at least, weakened) it.

I paid a return visit in July 2021. By then, sadly, the third column had disappeared completely (as had all of the old foundry buildings). The first column was unchanged, however.

The superior zoom on my new camera allowed the lamps to be seen more clearly. Twists of wire appear to be wrapped around them, suggesting that the gear could be Quickstart, which relies on a slight earth current passing, in order to start the lamps successfully. Standard MCF/E-type lamps can struggle to start in some conditions, which is why the MCF/A lamps (featuring a metallic strip along the length of the lamp) were produced as an option.

As I missed photographing the stump from the previous column during my last visit, I thought that I would picture it here instead.

Now that demolition of the buildings is complete, the lane is blocked off to vehicular traffic...but not pedestrian traffic!

Despite the rather precarious nature of the second lantern on its bracket, I was pleased that it was still present.

The inspection door was now missing from the miniscule column base, revealing a backboard that appears never to have had any components attached to it.

There were no remnants left at all of the third column, and all that remained of the once-prosperous foundry was a mound of rubble.

The empty site was vast, and rather eerie - there was no-one around but me; a far cry from the bustling site painted by Lowry. In a nod to this artwork, the site is to become a new industrial development known as Lowry Park.

By July 2022, the two remaining lanterns were removed. Fortunately, another collector was able to save them, as is confirmed in this video.

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