Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Number One Lampost in Water Lane!

Here's an interesting little item I spotted in a Kingston back street the other day. It's just behind the Bentalls complex near the river and is on Water Lane, aptly enough. As you can see it's the trunk of an old lampost and it seems to be a bit of a born survivor as over the last decade or so the whole of this area had been cleared and a range of buildings, flats and car parks had sprung up. It would appear unrecognisable to someone who lived here fifty years ago but for some reason this non-functioning lampost seems to have been left alone and would probably be the only reminder of that particular period

The box at the top is made by a company called Mazdalux which was apparently one of the brand names used by a company called British Thomson-Houston and I've spotted an interesting advert from 1945 which mentions the brand and its associations with street lighting although they were also very much involved with aircraft and airfield lighting as well.  I'm no expert in on lamposts but if pushed I'd guess that this one might date to between 1940 to 1950. It doesn't look ornately Victorian and seems a bit of a stylistic half-way house between ornamentation and functionality. As you can see in the background there are new lights down the road so the question remains as to why this one wasn't removed?

About half-way up the post are a couple of paper stickers which also intrigued me. The big number 1 is pretty obvious but it's partner underneath seems to be instructions for reporting any lamps whose lights had failed and provided the council phone number and the request to provide the street name and the lamp number.
I had harboured some thoughts that this might prove to be Kingston's number One lampost, which would be quite an honour for such a venerable old post,  but I suspect now that it might just prove to be Water Lane's number One. Not quite so prestigious, especially as there are so few competitors for the honour...   

It's a pity the phone number is missing as I'd feel it my civic duty to report the fact it's no longer working.


London Archaeologist and the Windowless Consultant said...

Perhaps an equally considerate previous visitor ripped the number off to take home and call... In the days before mobiles, of course.

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

British Thomson-Houston was a huge electrical company based in Rugby, later part of AEI whcih from the late 1960s became part of the General Electric Company, which survived -- renamed Marconi after another constituent part -- until the first few years of this century, when it went bust. Mazda was a common brand for lightbulbs until the 1960s, if not a bit later.
And the phone number? Local authorities only started putting them on lamp posts about 15 years ago, I think. That label would have long gone if it had dated back many decades.

Unknown said...

That's where the dole office used to be. I reckon the queue used to stretch past that lamp post. That was back in about 1984 or 5 I reckon, just after I left school.

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