Dublin Street Lighting

Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 08, 2006 2:59 am

Yes I was wondering what that selophane was about too; not sure if it's protecting the concrete or just holding the electrial access doors in place. Probably the former given metal bands are the usual short-term solution to broken doors.

Even in Morlan's pic here you can see quite a bit of deterioration to the concrete, and only that that can be seen:

Image

They are definitely in need of work at this stage; given the unusual nature of their construction they don't even receive a coat of paint over their lifetime. And goodness knows what structural state the lamps are in at this stage.

Indeed just on the lamps, I came across one of these notorious 1930s pieces recently having passed it for years without realising what it was, as has probably everyone else: the lamp suspended from the ceiling of the entrance foyer to Trinity on College Green! How did that get there?!

Also on streetlighting, an application of undercoat to a lamp on Talbot Street recently highlights just how good standards can look in a colour other than boring old black. Coloured streetlights can really help in creating an identity for certain streets and ought to be tried out more (though not with those hideous lanterns).
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Devin » Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:32 am

The concrete lamps are certainly getting a fair oul' innings on this thread (and rightly so!!).

I've seen that wear Phil. The marks of buses and other vehicles grazing against them can be seen all over the lower parts of them. Well at least by talking about them in this thread we are hopefully drawing attention to their plight!

How depressing if all the old removed ones have been ground as lunasa says! :(


Here's another '90s view of one of the (scandalously recently) removed ones on College Street and its 'heritage' replacement (not to mention the building behind!).

Image

Image
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Simon Cornwell » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:22 pm

As a street lighting historian and collector, I’ve found this thread particularly fascinating. Luckily I discovered this discussion before a short break in Dublin, so I was able to take several pictures of the examples in Merrion Square Park and pay my respect to the remaining concrete columns in the city.

I’ve since reviewed various publications and books devoted to street lighting and discovered that the O’Connell installation (that being the concrete columns) was mentioned several times. Even Waldram, who was probably the most respected street lighting engineer and researcher in the 1930s through to the 1960s, mentioned them favourably in his cornerstone book of 1951.

By road building standards, O’Connell Street is extremely wide. This causes problems with standard street lighting, which assumes a set road width (Normal street lighting lanterns are designed to cast light up and down the road’s axis). A custom built, or a novel approach, is required, and this is what the authorities set out to do in the late 1930s.

Looking at the old pictures of O’Connell Street, it was first lit with gas, then arc lamp, and finally incandescent electric bulb. In 1938, this often-altered installation was deemed inadequate and Mr. F X Algar, who was the head of the Lighting Section of the Irish Electricity Board, was asked to design a replacement installation.

His scheme was novel in many ways. Firstly, he specified concrete columns and brackets, which were only just being used for street lighting (the first columns in the UK being manufactured by Concrete Utilities and installed in Liverpool in 1932). The style of the bulky column, and the art-deco bracket, is an excellent example of these early concrete columns. Originally the surface would have been polished to a smooth finish, but the weathering of the last 60 years has reduced the surface back to the original, rough concrete mix.

Secondly, the large copper and brass lanterns were fitted with specialised refractor rings, which directed the light flux out towards the centre of the street, rather than along the street’s axis. Therefore to create a uniformly illuminated road surface, the lanterns had to be clustered closer together than the normal spacing; hence the requirement for a double bracket, arranged in-line with the road’s axis.

The lanterns were fitted with 1500W GLS lamps (which is a normal tungsten bulb). Additionally, the panes of the lantern were made of rimpled glass to diffuse the light and reduce glare from this intense point source.

Each complete lighting unit weighed 2 tons.

I’ve not been able to identify the manufacturers of either the columns or lanterns, but would suggest Concrete Utilities for the former, and perhaps BLEECO for the later.

When erected and completed in 1938, it was regarded as the best street lighting system in Ireland. By 1951, it was still of suitable merit that Waldram was singing its praises, dedicating a section of his book to this particular scheme.

Only subtle alterations were made during its lifetime. In 1963, the lanterns were converted to 700W high pressure mercury bulbs which gave off a more bluish-white light. Discharge lighting being far more effective than tungsten, it saved the Dublin authorities £10 per lantern per year, although there was a slight decrease in the installation’s efficiency. (This was due to the refractors being designed for the point source of a tungsten bulb and not the vertical linear source of a mercury discharge bulb).

At some point in the mid 1960s, the lighting deemed inadequate along the centre of the carriageway, and post-top GEC lanterns were erected along the centre of the street to boost the lighting.

The death knell occurred in 1972 when the entire installation was obsoleted. The lighting around the city had been upgraded to modern standards, and the 1930s technology of the main streets was looking very dim in comparison. Dublin’s lighting engineers visited Edinburgh to view the new wall-mounted lighting on Princess Street, and influenced by its clean, uncluttered design, decided on a similar, sterile design for O’Connell street. So the O’Connell concrete columns were ripped up in 1972, replaced by wall mounted GEC lanterns which burned pairs of high-pressure sodium lanterns.

In general, the early designed concrete columns and brackets have survived the longest, largely down to their sheer bulk, quality manufacturing and careful installation. By the 1940s and 1950s, spinning and prestressing of concrete columns allowed the manufacturers to build slender and thin columns. Coupled with sloppy installation by local authorities who skimped on sealing joints, many columns and brackets now show signs of water ingress i.e. cracking, spalling, and in some cases, collapse.

For this reason, concrete column manufacture for street lighting ceased in the early 1990s, and local authorities in the UK are currently embarking on schemes to remove as many of them as quickly as possible.

So, it’s a small miracle that some of the old 1938 Dublin columns still exist!

Unfortunately, it looks like the remaining brackets are succumbing to cracking and spalling. This would account for the sellophane wrapped around some of the brackets and columns; they’re literally starting to fall apart. This does not bode well, as I don’t know of any concrete column which has been repaired. I expect they’ll be declared dangerous and eventually removed.

A trip to the park was illuminating (ha!) because it revealed part of Dublin’s street lighting heritage. Many of the brackets and lanterns in the park were manufactured in the 1930s through to the 1950s by British Thompson Houston (BTH) and the Brighton Lighting And Electrical Engineering Company (BLEECO). I’ve taken several pictures of the street lights and and identified several examples on my website:
http://www.simoncornwell.com/lighting/install/dublin1/index.htm

I hope the above was of interest!

All the best,
Simon Cornwell
http://www.simoncornwell.com/lighting
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:35 pm

Great information there. All very interesting.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby phil » Wed Feb 08, 2006 7:41 pm

Yes, thank you very much for that. It is very interesting to know something about the history of those lights.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:32 pm

Brilliant stuff Simon - thank you for that information.

So is it likely they were made in the UK? And what caused the shift to the use of concrete in the 1930s do you know?


I'd often wondered about those refractor rings you mention inside the lamps...

Image

...can you explain what you said about directing the light out into the street a little more? Do you mean it directed the light out in all directions in a 360 degree manner, or just specifically out to the roadway?
Certainly the appeal of these lamps for me has always been the multi-directional light emitted - very efficient.

And now that you mention the bluey-white light bulbs installed in the 60s, I vaguely recall some of the fittings on D'Olier St as late as about 1990 still having such bulbs still intact! They looked so much better.
Thanks again for all your fascinating information!
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Devin » Thu Feb 09, 2006 2:01 am

Yeah thanks from me too, Simon.

I am fascinated now as to what the original column finish would've looked like "polished" and "smooth" as you say, now that they are down to the rough mix, as seen in the picture below (a crop from a pic I posted earlier).

It's amazing that most or all of the original mottled or "rimpled" (a new word for me!) glass seems to survive in the few remaining Dublin lamps.

There are examples on odd streets here and there around Dublin of the slightly later, more slender colums you refer to (but still having an art deco element to their design). I will try'n get some pictures.


Image
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Andrew Duffy » Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:52 pm

There is a single armed concrete lamp surviving on Baggot St. Bridge; all the others on Baggot St. seem to have had the arms replaced with metal ones. There are a few simpler single armed ones along South Richmond St, as well.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby phil » Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:04 pm

There are also a few single armed ones along the canal between Baggot Street and Leeson Street (City Centre side). There is also a few smaller examples with metal tops on Dartmouth Square and a few fully intact ones in the streets off London Bridge Road near Ringsend and Sandymount.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Simon Cornwell » Thu Feb 09, 2006 2:54 pm

[quote="Andrew Duffy"]There is a single armed concrete lamp surviving on Baggot St. Bridge]

Replacing the concrete bracket with a new metal bracket which fits over the stump of the concrete column is called "sleeving". In some cases, it's done to extend the life of the column, and replace a spalling concrete bracket which may have become dangerous. In other cases, a lantern replacement or upgrade may require a shorter arm, so a sleeve is used.

All the best,
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Simon Cornwell » Thu Feb 09, 2006 3:28 pm

Graham Hickey wrote:Brilliant stuff Simon - thank you for that information.

No problems. Glad it was of interest.

Graham Hickey wrote:So is it likely they were made in the UK? And what caused the shift to the use of concrete in the 1930s do you know?

Previous to the 1938 installation, I expect all of Dublin's cast iron columns and brackets were cast and produced by local foundries. The old gas lanterns were probably produced by local firms as well, although specialist gas lantern manufacturers were appearing by the mid 1850s.

The idea of using concrete for columns probably originated from the USA, where the first concrete street lighting columns appeared in the 1900s. Concrete was touted as a solution to all the problems with cast iron and/or steel: it didn't rust, it didn't require maintenance (i.e. a costly and timely repainting rota) and it has double the life of an iron or steel column.

It's acceptance was slow, probably due to the columns and brackets being bulky. But with the steel shortages of the 1940s and 1950s, concrete was used more and more frequently.

Dublin was certainly a very early adopter of concrete. In 1938, there would've only been a handful of manufuacturers who could've made them: take your pick from Concrete Utilities (who definitely produced lots of special designs for particular towns and cities), Stanton and/or REVO. I might be able to identify the manufacturer from the door at the base of the column, as many used their own locking mechanisms. If someone could photograph the door on one of the remaining Dublin columns then I'll try and identify the maker.

(I saw some other concrete columns in Dublin and noted they were by Concrete Utilities and Stanton. So, again, a mixture of suppliers was used over time).




Graham Hickey wrote:I'd often wondered about those refractor rings you mention inside the lamps...

Image

...can you explain what you said about directing the light out into the street a little more? Do you mean it directed the light out in all directions in a 360 degree manner, or just specifically out to the roadway?
Certainly the appeal of these lamps for me has always been the multi-directional light emitted - very efficient.


By suspending a bare light over the road, you'd achieve a circular distribution of light around the column. In some cases, this was desired, and bare bulbs with little or no optical control were used. There's some examples of those in the park, the BTH Parish lanterns being cases in point, having just a spun steel enameled over reflector to reflect light above the lamp back down onto the road.

But the idea of street lighting is to uniformally light the entire street surface so that any obstacles (such as cars, pedestrians etc.) would be shown in high constrast. (A principle called silhouette lighting, which started to gain ground in the 1910s and 1920s). Therefore lanterns were designed to cast their flux up-and-down the road's axis, and by positioning the columns correctly, the whole road could be evenly illuminated.

Diagrams of the principle is shown here:
http://www.simoncornwell.com/lighting/manufact/esla/cat/cat1930s-1/intro.htm

This was achieved in practise by using mirrored lanterns or glass refractors. See the bottom two diagrams on this page:
http://www.simoncornwell.com/lighting/manufact/bleeco/cat/cat1934-1/5.htm

The two plan candle-power distribution curves show how the light is directed by the refractor ring. If lanterns were strung across the centre of the carriageway, then the 180 degree refractor ring would be used]www.simoncornwell.com/lighting[/url]
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:40 pm

It does - thanks :)
Indeed even on the refractor in image above you can see a variation in the ripples of the glass - don't know if that accounts for anything.

Yes Stanton made quite a few Dublin posts; you see them a lot around the south inner city and suburbs. On a broader level in fact you don't get that many concretes on the Northside, perhaps reflective of the general lack of investment that part of the city got at the time.

As strange as it may seem at first it's really not surprising that the 1938 posts were of a smooth glossy surface originally - if you look at many of the 1950s posts around the city, many of them still retain an element of that orginal finish, although even then it does seem that a higher grade of concrete was used in these later posts; many are in remarkably good condition on the face of it anyway.

As for the doors Simon, I could be wrong but it would appear that the 1938s have replacement doors today - nasty unfinished steel yokes. Saying that, it's possible they are the orginals - would they have been painted to begin with?


Now that you describe them as arc lamps, it is instantly apparent why the 1892 set were so short-lived!

Image

They must have been a nightmare to maintain! And how antiquated too by the 1900s.

Here's a typical arc lamp from the period with the rods clearly exposed - you can see the striking similarity to those in Dublin city centre, and indeed as were installed right across Europe:

http://edison.rutgers.edu/latimer/arclmp2.htm
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Devin » Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:59 pm

There was a big foundry at Hammond Lane, in the Docklands - a lot of the Dublin lamps were produced there as far as I know.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Thu Feb 09, 2006 9:22 pm

Yep - all of the Merrion Street columns were made here - you can just make it out on the ribbon detail at the base on the left:

Image

Similarly many of the small posts on Grafton Street and/or St. Stephen's Green were made there.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Simon Cornwell » Thu Feb 09, 2006 9:45 pm

Graham Hickey wrote:It does - thanks :)
Indeed even on the refractor in image above you can see a variation in the ripples of the glass - don't know if that accounts for anything.

Yes, the refractor won't have a uniform pattern, and you can clearly see where the grooves are different on the glass to change, or concentrate the beam. Additionally the refractor can only fit into the lantern one way, and the lantern itself will have "Road Side" and "Path Side" written on it. This stops errant street lighting engineers screwing on the lanterns the wrong way, and causing the main beam to be shone straight through someone's window. (In theory).

Graham Hickey wrote:As for the doors Simon, I could be wrong but it would appear
that the 1938s have replacement doors today - nasty unfinished
steel yokes. Saying that, it's possible they are the orginals - would
they have been painted to begin with?

They won't have been painted, and will look like a thin piece of slightly rusty metal. Additionally you might be lucky and find the maker's name or initails in the concrete around the base.

>Now that you describe them as arc lamps, it is instantly
>apparent why the 1892 set were so short-lived!
Now, they're classic arc lamps :)

The canopies are extremely tall to house both the clockwork gear and extremely long carbons. As the arc burnt away the carbon, the clockwork would gradually move the carbon down, keeping the arc going. In practise, they probably needed some maintenance every day. I'm sure the street lighting engineers loved them. :)

Looking at some of the other pictures in this thread, I'm at a loss over the 1920-23 street light. The long canopy is definitely a characteristic of the 1920s, but the bowl and the weird appendage below it are most odd. It reminds me of "dim out" lighting in London, installed in the early 1940s, to provide very low lighting during the Blitz. So I'm confused as to why a similar looking lantern appeared in Dublin twenty years previously.

All the best,
Simon
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:14 pm

Yes, that's precisely what I thought too, and was going along with that theory until a few pre-War photographs blew it out of the water! :(
I can't find them just at the miniute - must have a better look.

The one thing to bear in mind is that, as you probably know, the Irish Civil War reduced much of Upper O'Connell Street to rubble in 1922. Considering that the lampposts of that time had even managed to survive the much greater devastation of 1916, allbeit with a few likely smashed lamps, the opportunity was probably taken in 1923 to replenish all of the city centre lamps considering many were probably replaced in a piecemeal fashion following both events. Hence the rather spooky looking electric lamps that were attached which can be seen swinging in the wind on O'Connell Bridge in some footage!
My theory anyway. Though what the heck sort of lamps they are goodness only knows...

Image
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:11 am

Discovered some fascinating information today on foot of Simon’s suggestions. I checked the bases of all six remaining 1938 columns and sadly, but incredibly luckily, all but one remains intact. Four of them have nasty metal plates clamped onto them as mentioned before:

Image

Image

…while two original doors remain but only one fully intact – crucially with a fantastically comprehensive maker’s stamp and address still in place at the bottom! It would appear that these columns were rather exotically made on the Continent!

Here you can see one of the two remaining doors, this damaged with part of the plate missing to the bottom, but nonetheless look how wonderfully neat and well made these doors are – a seamless design, beautifully made:

Image


And the all important maker’s stamp on the single intact door: Sofrapel of Paris!

Image


To this day the company appear to be engaged in concrete formulation and experimentation from what I can make out on the internet – fascinating stuff. So not British at all! (?)
It seems the columns were cast in France and shipped over – what a cargo! I wonder if the lamps are Irish-made…

The more you look at the concrete, the more it seems it was always this rough. I find it hard to imagine that this aggregate compound was originally much smoother that what we have today – it has hardly weathered so much in 70 years.

Image

The mix is so coarse, and the ‘stones’ so large, that it seems it was always like this; the posts are very early concrete examples after all.


Sadly, on close inspection there is little doubt these posts are on their last legs – unfortunately they’re going to have to be uprooted, at the very least for huge restoration if not total replacement. To be frank, they look dangerous.
The most shocking example of damage on D’Olier Street:

Image


Image


College Street – there’s cracking the whole way down the picture:

Image

And goodness only knows what’s wrapped up inside this:

Image

The post across the road has similar bandaging in two places along its shaft, and other posts' arms don't look overly secure where they attach to the column.


It really is such a shame to see them all in this state – cracking concrete, severe erosion, whole chunks of shafts gouged out, rusting steels, dirty lamps, missing glass, horrid plastic and metal ties wrapped round bases, and hideous lumps of metal being passed off as replacement doors. What a disaster.

The columns must be removed immediately for their own good. They ought to be fully restored if this is technically possible. If not, perhaps replacement parts such as shafts or lamp arms could be recast, again if possible. The notion of full replicas rings a bit hollow, but there’s certainly no reason why the original lamps could not be used in such a case.

Either way something has to be done, and quickly. Presumably a structural survey has already been conducted on all of them in the interest of public safety…?

They're such a part of the character of central Dublin - it would be a shame to lose them :(
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby Devin » Mon Jul 24, 2006 2:43 am

En Route to An Trá in the heat last week, I noticed a new historic-style cast iron lamp scheme has been installed along the Clontarf seafront (the one where, bizarrely, you are not allowed to cycle). As a historic style, the design of the lamp is actually quite good and it appears to be well cast.

However it is quite a full-blooded Victorian design, and I’m not sure if it was the right thing to put here, beside the various concrete shelters along the seafront, all of which are strongly of 20th century ‘international style’ in design (see pictures).

I’m not saying it was the wrong thing to do, but there should have been some consultation for something like this, to see what kind of a consensus there would be about the design of a new lamp scheme in this location. I don’t remember hearing a thing about it ….
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby StephenC » Mon Jul 24, 2006 1:19 pm

Its good to see this lighting scheme finally installed. It has been on the cards for a number of years now. A managment plan was drawn up for the Clontarf Promenade and I think other elements such as improved planting are also planned. The lighting scheme is the same as that installed at Sandymount, no? They are quite attractive lights although I can see your point Devin about the contrast between the lamps design and the shelters. Some attention to the pockmarked wall would be welcome as well. This must have had a railings along its length at some stage,

And you can actually cycle on a dedicated cycle path here...alöthough it is closer to the road than the pedestrian promenade. Personally I think this is a better solution.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby DGF » Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:11 pm

It looks like a new lighting scheme is going up through Phibsboro too, around the junction with the NCR. Don't have photos but the light fittings are a very peculiar wide cone shape mounted on very high poles. Battleship grey in colour. Haven't seen anything else like them in the city and don't find them particularly attractive. The old poles and lights are still in place too so its a bit of a mess at the moment.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby CM00 » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:02 pm

The last bastion of our concrete bretheren:

In and around Suburban Harold's Cross, these Concrete lamposts survive relatively intact..

As a matter of interest,They're being gradually removed from The Grand Canal between Baggot/Leeson st, also between the Bleeding Horse and Portobello, where evidence of Cracking similar to Graham's shots is also visible.

Oh yeah and Graham, that was really lucky finding the intact concrete door :) , ALL of the ones I came across had been crudely replaced with said metal plates.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby CM00 » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:07 pm

In the winter light, A scaled down sentry guards a lonely street in Rathmines.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby CM00 » Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:21 pm

I absolutely LOVE these ones, they're very elegant and chic, hopefully these will never go the way of the concrete. I think they speak classic, turn of the century Dublin as much as the next (lamp)post. This one is on Harrington St, just by portobello there.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:50 pm

Could not agree with you more - amongst the finest lampposts in the city, they're one of my favourites too :)
Early electric, though maybe a bit later than most at 1910-20 (?), they can be found along many of the major arterial routes of the north and south inner suburbs, Harrington Street being a classic example.

They're so wonderfully elegant: slim profile, streamlined components, and attractive detailing: they unobtrusively fit into any streetscape. And strangely, the later ugly sodium lamps kinda add to their thin profile! Love to know what the original ones were like though.

But yes it would seem DCC are actively going about cleansing the capital of concrete posts - as mentioned all of Richmond Street was being wiped of them a few months ago and being replaced with the usual tacky silver repro rubbish. (Had a pic but seems to have gone missing). The fact that the Lighting Division can't even be arsed to come up with decent replacements speaks volumes as to their attitude to the city's lighting stock. It's unfortunate to have to say it, but really much of the city's 20thC lighting is in grave danger of disappearing if not watched closely - it might as well be 1973 in terms of what's going on, and that extends to 'modern' standards going in which are so often the usual skinny repro trash, or simply galvanised motorway stock. There seems to be no grand plan or coordinated approach, particularly as the the future of concrete - this should have been researched and sorted years ago! And yet only now when the city's stock is crumbling away are they finally being investigated, and even then many are simply being replaced before any chance is made to assess them!
The curved c.1950 ones pictured above by CM00 are an integral part of Dublin's subrbs and are very much worthy of conservation.

Agreed about the new posts in Phibsboro too DFG - not very attractive at all either, though saying that the new black posts going in on the East Wall Road beside the Point and Dublin Port entrance are quite striking if anyone has a pic.

The new posts at Clontarf seem to be identical to the black posts erected a few years ago in Sandymount as Stephen says:

Image


They do look rather odd alright beside the modernist shelters and wall (lovely things btw), but certainly are suited to the Sandymount Strand Road setting (above) anyway with the Victorian villas opposite - don't know Clontarf very well.
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Re: Dublin Street Lighting

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 04, 2006 9:06 pm

Just remembered this - Trinity's carriage arch (;)) lamp. As mentioned before, it is one of the 1930s concrete lamps!

Image

Image

(albeit cleaned up)

Image

Now how did they get hold of it?! :mad:

Anyone have a picture of an older lamp here to give us an indication of when they installed it?
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