4a. Sowter Road, Derby City Centre Situated around the corner from the installation detailed on the previous page is an elderly cast iron Lucy feeder pillar that used to group-control the lighting on several nearby streets. Whilst much of the equipment within the pillar is likely to be redundant these days, the pillar retains a live three-phase supply, and the two bare Crompton Permalife 40 Watt GLS lamps within the pillar are operational. I discovered this pillar during my work experience with the Council's Street Lighting Department in 2003, when Jeremy, one of the street lighting electricians, allowed me to have a look inside the pillar, and explained its purpose. The pillar is situated opposite the site of Derby's first power station, which remains in use as a substation to this day; its positioning to the electrical distribution base is not likely to be coincidental.
The very innocuous-looking miscellaneous green pillar could house all manner of modern switchgear when viewed with its doors closed.
Opening the two heavy cast iron doors reveals a very different story, however! Notice that the insides of the two doors are painted a slightly duller shade of green; this is the colour that the whole pillar was painted when I encountered it in 2003.
The main three-phase Electricity Company supply terminates into the left-hand side of the pillar, which is home to two Sangamo time switches (one of which is missing), two contactors, a Venner-made meter, and two period Bakelite light switches - one operates the internal lighting within the pillar, while the other appears to serve as an emergency override switch for the the lights that would be controlled by the time switches under normal circumstances. Notice the length of conduit that passes below the meter, on the left-hand side - the black cable above the meter enters this and passes underground. This cable is another means of overriding the normal operation of the lights, but is a little more ingenious - this is a system whereby a special telephone number could be dialled, which would send a pulse into a receiver within the pillar, and thus, activate (or deactivate) the lights out of regular switching hours.
The right-hand (and larger) side of the pillar houses a further three contactors, individual porcelain fuses for their respective coil supplies, four override switches, and four cut-outs offering fused protection to the outgoing supply cables. As can be seen, originally, there were four contactors; the witness mark for the fourth remains visible on the backboard. The contactors are labelled, in order to distinguish the street that each fed - from left to right, these are: Full Street, The Wardwick, Irongate and Mansfield Road. Jeremy believed that the latter contactor was removed when the Ring Road was completed in the early 1970s.
The fuse that fed this circuit's coil has been re-used for feeding the fourth cut-out, where an armoured cable has been connected into the top of the redundant fourth cut-out. Jeremy has written "To 34973" on this cable. This was the previous lighting column that was installed to the left of the pillar, replaced under Derby's Street Lighting PFI programme with column LC36585. The new column appears to be fed on a direct Electricity Company supply, and so the other end of the armoured cable is likely to have been "pot-ended" somewhere in the footway near the new column. Interestingly, the location description for Column 34973 is "Rear of Squash Club", when I've always known the area behind the column to be a car park...yes, the description may have been a tiny bit out-of-date!
Proof that the old pillar is still operational! The two lamps were fitted by Jeremy in 2002.
Another view of the left-hand side of the pillar.
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