Hill End Road, Harefield, Uxbridge

"We stand in the streets, all in a row. When it starts to get dark, we're ready to go. All through the night, we shine, beam and glow. What are we? We're Street Lamps!"

This was the opening line to the 'Street Lamps' episode of the 1990s' children's TV series 'Come Outside', featuring Auntie Mabel (played by the late Lynda Baron), and her dog, Pippin. The two are flying home at dusk, and admiring the glittering lights below. When they arrive home, Auntie Mabel tries to switch on the hall light but the lamp has failed. Pippin finds a torch, and a new lamp is fitted. During Pippin's evening walk, Auntie Mabel trips over a bag of rubbish because the street light isnít working. Next day, they watch to see how the light is repaired, and find out how street lights switch themselves on and off automatically. Auntie Mabel tells a story about a Victorian lamplighter.

The episode features below, and starts at the point where Dave, the electrician, turns up on site to carry out the "repair".

Note that, despite Auntie Mabel giving the defective light's location as "Acacia Road, near the corner of Wood Street", in reality, Hill End Road was where all of the filming took place. I decided to pay a visit to the road in 2022, which marks 25 years since the episode was produced. This road was also used for a couple of scenes in the 'Buses' episode; albeit, further up, near the houses.

The most noticeable change is that the trees have grown considerably in the intervening quarter of a century, but the column where the lamp change occurred is still in place (or at least, the position remains the same, as we shall see in a moment). The Thorn Beta 5 is now a Philips Unistreet LED lantern, however.

Auntie Mabel and Pippin are seen emerging from this footpath.

The footpath is little changed, although the guard rails have been replaced. The concrete post to the left, which supports the chain link fence, is the same.

"They've come to repair that lamp!"

A set of good tree loppers would be in order before any repairs could be undertaken these days!

Dave prepares to inspect the column base to check for a live electricity supply. I suspect that this column must have been replaced at some point after the filming occurred (but no earlier than 1999), as the column at this location now is a Corus product, and this company only came into existence in October of that year, following the merger of British Steel and the Dutch Koninklijke Hoogovens.

Fortunately, the next column along, which supported a GEC Z9536 running a 35 Watt SOX lamp in 1997, and features briefly in the video too, was unchanged, so I shall pretend that this is the same base compartment. No Dave was present 25 years later, and neither was the bag of rubbish either, for that matter!

Dave places his key into the slot of the Stewart & Lloyd column door.

 In 2022, the door was not only positioned upside-down, but was insecure. I rectified this fault while I was there by attaching a Tamtorque band around the column base to secure the door (and of course, turned it the correct way up). I felt a certain irony in the column's innards being exposed, given that Auntie Mabel warns the young (and not so young) viewers not to touch anything within the column in the event of the door being missing!

This shot must have been filmed separately to the rest of the piece, as the bag of rubbish has disappeared (most mysteriously!), Dave's tool box has moved onto the footway, and the weather seems somewhat more cloudy. The Stewart & Lloyd column with the dodgy door is visible in the background.

The column bases appear to have been painted light blue over the earlier grey since 1997.

This image shows the rather random setbacks of the three columns in the background. Again, the Stewart & Lloyd supporting the Z9536 is the first one behind Auntie Mabel.

The column that was second from the front in the above image was replaced at some point after October 2020.

With the door opened, the Lucy cut-out and Royce Thompson P42 control unit were visible in 1997.

Today, the cut-out remains the same, but the P42, which switched the Z9536 on this column, is no longer present, owing to the Unistreet having its own photocell control.

The old screw holes for the controller's base remain visible on the backboard, however.

Auntie Mabel waves to Pippin as she prepares to go up to inspect the lamp with Dave.

More signage exists on the column shaft these days.

The curved ends to the door were the biggest clue that the column here now was not the same as the one that had been here in 1997 was - the Stewart & Lloyd column door having straight ends.

A brief video that I made during my visit can be viewed below:




© 2002 - English Street Lights Online