Thursday, 1 January 2009

Lightwells and their variants

Having recently completed the piece about the Hayward Brothers company, I found myself up in Wimbledon Village one morning and thought it would be an interesting exercise to have a quick local survey to see what lightwells there might be - especially those produced by Haywards themselves. For such a small High Street there were a surprising number of different makers and styles, including a few more primitive alternatives to the usual Semi-prismatic lightwell which were well worth recording.

Of course I couldn't resist keeping an eye out over the next few days either, so there are a couple of examples from Hampton and Kingston included as well.

Lightwell and grating
One of the interesting things I found in the Village were a number of metal grills, the precursor of the now familiar semi-prismatic lights. In these examples the cellar had a 'normal' window whose light came from a pit dug down below ground level. This pit was covered by a protective grill to stop people falling down it. The light might have been useful, but the pits often had water flowing down them in the winter and rubbish building up during the summer. Not an ideal combination.Semi-Prismatic Stall Board
This is a more sophisticated option. Here the vertical window is placed beneath the ground floor window so that it acts as a sort of attic light for the cellar. Some of the prisms are angled in order to diffuse the light but the majority would produce a spotlight effect.

The Hayward Brothers Company book has an illustration showing the difference between the two main systems. Not surprisingly their main format seems to win hands down...

The Improved Pavement Light Co. Ltd.
A quick Google for this company doesn't provide much illumination (boom! boom!) which is a little surprising as I'd spotted another of their items some time ago.
Wimbledon High Street SW19
Church Road SW19 A 'Marlborough' from the "Improved Pavement
Light Co. Ltd."
Wimbledon High Street SW19 The rather attractive colour of the glass is caused by the effect of ultra-violet rays on elements in the glass.

E. Maclean & Co., Glasgow (Wimbledon High Street)

Where most street furniture tends to be local, this example seems to be the exception that proves the rule. Intriguing though it is to find it so far south there's nothing I can find to explain how it might have ended up here. Quite a neat design though with less metal being used than most.
Lely's Semi Prism Lights

Another company for whom a superficial search turns up nothing.Does Station Approach still exist?

T Hyatt & Co, 9 Farringdon Road London (Kingston Road, Kingston)

More holes than a Gruyer cheese, this particular example is outside a pub on the approach to Kingston. The pub is still open and presumably doesn't mind a bit of damp in the cellar now and then. Still, this particular lightwell raises the possibility of an American connection, mainly to Thaddeus Hyatt of New York. Could he have had a London agent, eager to make inroads into the Hayward Brothers business? This advert from Glassian seems to back that up.

JA King & Co, 181 Queen Victoria Street EC4

Possibly an example of their 'Ferro-Glass' lightwell range, this is a pretty standard version of the Hayward model. More company details on Glassian's site.

The British Luxfer Prism Syndicate Ltd.
Glassian has a section about the British Luxfer Prism Syndicate Ltd on his superb resource page. The company were founded in 1898 and changed their name to British Luxfer in 1928, which narrows it down this particular example to a thirty year period!Hayward Brothers Ltd
Who's the daddy? As usual the company with the greatest representation are the Hayward Brothers.
I assume they could make a lightwell to fit your hole so the sizes would vary, although there appear to be at least a couple that
Wimbledon High Street SW19

Wimbledon High Street SW19 Some superb colouring on these ones..

Above is a 10 by 5 grill... and below is a 9 by 5 grill. Looks as though no hole was safe!

I find the colours in some of these lights quite attractive, almost as though they've been made out of amythest.
Concrete Mounting The shape of things to come! Reinforced concrete must have been a lot cheaper and quicker than metal frames and would have had an air of modernity about it when first introduced. Regent Street in London is a good example of these early examples although America seems to have adapted them much earlier.

Hexagonal design - Creek Road, Hampton Wick An interesting design with, sadly, no hint as to who the manufacturer might be.

Barons Court Another interesting design with a striking black and white mosaic effect. I've seen a couple of these but they have been in very poor condition or mostly covered by tarmac. This is by far the best example I've spotted. Sadly also annonymous...


Simon said...

Unrelated, but I read this and thought of you;

Guardian - Project launched to breathe life into waterways buried under London concrete and brick

Jane said...

I found this Hyatt & Co light well a while ago which I thought you might be interested in. It's just south of Royal Oak Station on the parade of shops.

Jane said...

Oh and this is me getting all arty with light wells and mosaic shop fronts:

Yelfy said...

Thanks as always Jane - I really enjoy your pictures and more power to your 'arty' elbow! Hyatt's are an interesting manufacturer to me because of their American origins and attempted penetration of the British market but I must admit to really being taken by the Haywards photograph as well.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post.

It is sad there is no longer main-stream interest or desire to be connected to hand-crafted, pragmatic items like this.


Anonymous said...

I am very interested in getting more information about T. Hyatt light wells. I actually have one in front of my shop in W.Yorkshire. The glass is fairly smashed and would like to renovate or replace it with similar.Any leads would be most appreciated. Sonje

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Jane said...

I have recently discovered a couple of unusual coal hole pavement light combos – when I get a minute I will post on Jane's London then copy here.

Jane said...

As promised – light-well-coal-hole-combos (and some horses):

Unknown said...

Lovely example of A hayward pavement light on floor 1 of Wolverhampton magistrates court in wton

Andy Knight said...

As the Foundry Manager of the company who produces these lovely castings , this blog is a joy

If you need a new pavement light to either replace and replica an existing light or would just like a new one please feel free to contact me directly

Lots of details on our dedicated web site -

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