Thorn Beta 5

Lantern acquired in November 2019.

This lantern was attached to column 6 on Trowell Grove, Trowell, Nottinghamshire until this column was replaced as part of the County's programme to renew its lighting stock and fit LED lighting in place of its traditional 'lamped' street lighting lanterns. The column was a cast iron type, with a top-entry swan neck bracket - this may have granted the installation a bit of a reprieve if it was deemed unsuitable for accommodating an LED lantern. Whilst the Beta 5 was, once, a very common sight on minor roads throughout the UK, early examples with the lamp control gear housed with the lantern itself, such as this one, were considerably rarer. With thanks to E-ON Highways Lighting for allowing me to have this lantern; yes, the irony was not lost on me, either, Survivor #110D.

This screenshot from Google Street View shows the lantern as it appeared in October 2012. The column is concurrent with the age of the houses, and was probably original to when the road was constructed in the 1930s.

 

When viewed from the front, the column's ladder bars seemed especially narrow, even allowing for distortions created by the image.

 

The main part of the swan neck bracket had snapped off the fuse box that was sandwiched between it and the column. All that was in the fuse box was the old (original) porcelain fuse carrier and relay for the P42 two-part photocell.

 

The relay was manufactured in January 1976, suggesting that the lantern may have been operated on time switch control for the first few years of its life, though another possibility is that the original relay failed and had to be replaced with this one. The unit is calibrated to activate at 55 Lux.

 

The earlier Beta 5s incorporate slightly different refractor bowls to their later counterparts; not least, because the bowls on these lanterns are held in place by an aluminium ring, whereas later versions are attached directly to the lantern. The bowl fitted here appears to be a vacuum-formed polycarbonate replacement for a long-lost original.

 

The cream paint applied most recently to the bracket (and part of the lantern canopy too!) is wearing quite noticeably, revealing an earlier green, and possibly red, paint finish too, although the latter may be a red oxide primer showing through.

 

The bowl features side refractors only; these are embossed in relation to the surrounding plastic.

 

Opening the bowl reveals a rather grubby interior, along with a 35 W SOX-PSG lamp dating from October 2018.

 

Much of the retaining ring gasket is missing, as is the lantern's identity sticker.

 

Only the 'A' from 'BETA FIVE' on the label is left. At the time that this lantern was produced, it may have still been known as the AEI Amber Minor, although as the AEI name was dropped in favour of a consolidated Thorn Lighting in 1967 (AEI having been bought out by GEC), the alternative name may have been removed from the label by then - we shall never know!

 

The state of the porcelain lampholder's insides is testament to the number of lamps that this lantern has run during its working lifetime.

 

The gear tray retaining screw is missing, although, thankfully, the hinges are rather stiff, and so the tray will not hang open too easily. The beefy leak transformer takes up all of the top section of the gear tray, whilst the capacitor is attached to the inside of the canopy. A (slightly sprung) baffle plate is positioned above where the ballast rests.

 

The British Lighting Industries AME 53181.4 ballast states that it is suitable for running 40 - 60 W SOX lamps; the forerunners of the 35 - 55 W ratings that were introduced in the late 1960s after improvements in the lamp technology allowed the change.

 

The BICC-made AME C2280 capacitor appears to date to October 1969, making it just over fifty years old when the lantern was removed from service.

 

Thorn Beta 5s in the Collection

1970

1982

1983

1989

1996

1998

2001

2004

2006

2008

Philips XGS 103 | Atlas Alpha 3


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