4c. Exeter Bridge, Derby City Centre. On each of the pillars on the bridge are a couple of very old ornamental bronze lanterns. Their exact age is unknown, although they are at least as old as the current bridge, which was constructed between 1929 and 1931, and opened on the 13th March in that latter year. In the past, they have been fitted with 100 W tungsten lamps, but later used 100 W mercury blended lamps and were switched from the photocell on the lantern that was attached to the column closest to each pillar; however, the problem was that the main lantern ran a 400 W lamp, and so the extra 100 W load caused many cells to be overloaded, and consequently, it would fail and cause the lanterns to dayburn. This was eventually solved by installing Horstmann K Mk 2A part night time switches in the bases of the columns, and using them to power the ornamental lanterns.
The photographs show one of the lanterns on the pillar nearest to Derby's old Magistrates' Court, which today serves as the base for the Local Studies Library:
As part of Derby's Street Lighting PFI, the lanterns underwent a much-needed refurbishment; the corrosion was removed, and new glazing panels fitted, including into the previously-open bottom section of the lanterns. The light source is also likely to have been altered at this point, although I am unsure of what the new lamps are. The bridge's four pillars all carry a plaque depicting a famous Derby person - as scandalous as it may seem, there is no plaque dedicated to me...not yet, anyway! This particular pillar (the same as the one pictured above) is dedicated to John Lombe (1694 - 1722), who was a "pioneer of the silk industry in Derby" and "lived in Full Street" (which is just around the corner). The lower plaque commemorates the rebuilding of the bridge, along with its subsequent reopening by Herbert Morrison MP, who was the Minister of Transport at the time; later becoming Home Secretary during the Second World War, and then the Deputy Prime Minister in the immediate post-war years.
The method of how these lanterns are switched today is unknown; perhaps the previous method of switching them using the photocell of the nearest street lighting lantern has been re-introduced, now that the lighting has been renewed and the new lanterns are of a lower wattage than their predecessors were.
The lanterns are today fed using flexible cables that are clipped directly to the stonework. Assuming that the lanterns have always run electric lamps, the original cables would probably have passed into the stonework, out of sight.
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