Saturday 5 June 2010

Raynes Park and the Mysterious Electrical Item

If proof were needed that driving around is no way to see your neighbourhood, this particular item is as good an example as any. It's located at a hectic cross-roads just before the busy A3 and I must have driven passed it hundreds of times over the years. It was only when I went past on foot the other week though that I actually noticed and then when I did see it I was left wondering how on earth I never saw it before! To be fair though, it is set back from the kerb, painted green and sited against a backdrop of trees and bushes which is probably how it's managed to survive so long...
The question is of course, what is it?  With all the 'classic' mouldings around the base, it  looks as though it's an old lampost but the fact that there's a door at the front at it's base would suggest  that it was always intended to have a more significant role. The two boxes on the side also suggest that the whole contraption was  a bit on the 'Heath Robinson' side, with sections being added as required.

Discounting the possibility of being a lampost, what else might it have been? I did wonder if it might have been a traffic light of some sort but it's distance from the road makes that unlikely. Could it have been the control box for early sets of traffic lights though? An early  switchboard box maybe?

I haven't really got much of a clue about this one so I took a number of photos in the hope that someone might be able to help out.
 Side view - showing distance from the road

There's a large box of tricks next to our post. Could it be it's modern equivalent or is it something unrelated like a telephone exchange?

Acme Lighting & Engineering Co.
Waverley Road, St Albans

I was hoping that this would provide some information but I've not been able to find out much about this company at all. There have been a number of mainly engineering companies under the Acme name in Waverley Road but the lighting branch has been a bit elusive to date.
The remains of the old heavy duty wires are clearly visible as is the wooden backing board, along with a bit of rust and a few cobwebs.

Presumably there was originally a door on the front of this section which covered up the vertical pipe coming up from under the pavement
A closer look reveals some three-core cable and the remains of some insulation. Possibly a fuseboard of some sort?

Pipes going in, coming out, going to boxes, going down pipes and all the time looking like an old-school cyberman's head from the BBC
The views below take in the larger of the two side boxes. Again not much to see and one of the hinges has been broken

And finally at the top of the post there's what looks like a cap. Originally painted white it has three side screws - presumably to hold it in place - and a final screw on the top. Was it always on the top or was it put on when (presumably) the top assembly was removed?
I'll be dropping some emails to other specialist sites to see if they can identify this but if you've any ideas please feel free to leave a comment.


wellwynder said...

I wouldn't rule out a lamp-post - they quite often have doors on them - but with the various other bits of paraphernalia, it would have to be some kind of "lamp-post plus", but what the plus would be, I have no idea. Maybe a junction box of some sort, relating to other lamps?

I can tell you, though, as a resident of St.Albans, that there's nothing remotely like industrial premises in Waverley Road nowadays!

Anonymous said...

I believe the United London Tramways trams reached Raynes Park in the early 1900s. I wonder whether this device is connected with that, say a points switcher or a signal of some sort.

Clive Scoggins said...

My guess as well - street furniture associated with either trams or trolleybuses.

Unknown said...

It wouldn't be related to either the tramway or the trolleybuses, as they approached Raynes Park via West Barnes Lane.

But, whilst checking that I found something interesting at this site

Open the link for routes 601-5 and view pictures 292 and 293. They both show the nearby Shannon Corner junction as it appeared around 1960. If you look at the traffic signal to the right, it's the same post.

Given its position, the remaining pole at the Bushey Road junction may have been used for just the control timers.

ronin1770 said...
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Yelfy said...

I've just had an interesting post from Kate regarding the post. She wasn't able to post a comment so I'm happy to do it for her "Unfortunately I know nothing about the item but I do know a little about the Acme Lighting and Electrical Co which used to be in St Albans, previous to that it was in North London. It was owned/run(?) by G E Tate and F Monkhouse. Hope that helps and if anyone knows any more I'd be grateful too.

There is a listed lamp post in Camden made by the same company:

Location: Lamp post at St Pancras Almhouses to the north of nos. 1-5
Street: Southampton Road, Camden

Grade: II
Reference No: 798-1-1013940
Description: Lamp post. Late c19. Cast iron. Octagonal pedestal with spiral column with decorative flowers, leaves and beading with swansneck bracket and saucer bulb holder. Plate states that it was manufactured by the Acme Lighting and Engineering Co of St Albans.


p.s. There were photos of the lamp post on the listed buildings website but they are not showing up for me at the moment.

P.s.s. The reason I was looking at your page is that I searched on Acme Lighting & Electrical Co as George E Tate is my great grandfather."

nike free run 2 said...

There's also plenty in W12 Shepherds Bush where I live, should you not boraden your horizons?!

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