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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:01 pm 
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 Post subject: Survivors from the Past.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:00 am 
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I have recently been on a short break in Wales. Actually, it is a return to a previous holiday destination in a way. The last time I was here was on a horse riding expedition over the Brecon Beacons, probably around 2008 and after riding one of those sturdy 15hh section D Welsh cobs, I found I had some spare time left to visit one of the local attractions.

Known as "Big Pit" colliery in Blaenavon, it is a substantially complete coal mine which closed in the mid 80s. Since then it has been conserved and is home to the National Mining Museum of Wales. It was certainly an interesting place for those interested in mining and industrial heritage (like myself).

However the most interesting aspect of this place, was that the site also included some interesting yet typical outdoor lighting which would be found in the nationalised coal industry - 1960s SOX lanterns.

As it is quite a rambling site, there would be numerous access roads and pathways. The lights were mainly Revo Daleks and I think AEI Ambers. All were mounted on telegraph poles previously fed via overhead cables but since wired via an underground service. I think the majority were still in use.

Since it was a good few years since I last visited "Big Pit", I thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up on the old place. It is only about 8 miles from Abergavenny so it was ideal.

Although there have been some improvements to the facilities, the basic purpose of the museum and its collection is pretty much unchanged, so still worth a visit.

One major change is that the museum has recently invested in solar power generation to help reduce its running costs. It is somewhat ironic that a museum that celebrates the Welsh mining industry and condemns its decimation, has been forced to turn to renewable energy, which indirectly helped to kill off the pits in the first place...but that is politics....still if it makes the place pay its way (free entry to all) then fair enough.  

The downside to the scheme however concerns the old sodium lighting. As part of the energy efficiency deal, the old lanterns have recently been replaced with LED. The brackets have also been changed as well. Whilst I understand the museum electricians (all ex NCB staff) have had issues with the old equipment ie chokes failing as well as corrosion of the brackets, it is a shame that the lanterns could not have been repaired or modified in some way. Granted the bowls were opaque and holed with age, but at night the effect must have been perfect.

In my eye, the substitution of SOX for rather cheap looking LED lanterns unbalances what is otherwise a good example of a substantially intact colliery (one of only two left). The site is pretty unchanged from when it was in its final years of production, although in my opinion, some areas are a little too tidy for my liking. That said, one can't have visitors tripping over discarded piles of mining artifacts.

The fact that the old lighting remained added to the feel of the place and underlines the fact that such places were often the last bastions of vintage lanterns, long since eliminated from the nations roads. This makes it all the more incredible that modern day fashions and creeds have overridden the need to conserve what was an integral part of our mining heritage from the 1950s until its demise. Collieries and other industrial areas were not concerned with eco awareness when making this country great, so why should they be expected to conform now? Whats next, converting the East Lancs Steam Railway to wind power?

Anyway, rant over!

Pictures of the old installations in 2008 and their replacements follow. Its a pity the weather wasn't as good this time around.


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File comment: A general view of the colliery site. A Revo dalek can be seen attached to the headstock.
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File comment: A close up of one of the original SOX lanterns. Although most were surviving in 2008, a couple had already been swapped out for MI36s. Referring to 1970s NCB archive photos, some of the brackets were originally the typical cranked style seen on rural roads.
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File comment: This AEI lantern was formerly on the side of the winding house. It has since been replaced by an LED fitting. (See image 7)
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File comment: The walkway from the pithead to the canteen / baths was lit by these Revo lanterns.
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File comment: A joblot of ex LA Urbis lanterns were donated to the musem. A few have been installed to illuminated beneath the headstocks and pithead area.
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File comment: The LED lanterns are mounted on replacement brackets. Presumably the wooden poles were sound enough to be retained.
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File comment: One of the LED lanterns which now graces the wall of the winding house. The original lantern was photographed in 2008. (See image 3)
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File comment: One of the original lanterns still survives. It has been derelict though for a long time. The ballast was intact in 2008, but is no longer evident today.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:07 pm 
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Further to my recent holiday in Wales, I thought I would let you know of some other relics which abound in the area.

The following were taken off GSV and include a Gamma 2 still in situ, in a small village off the A465 . There is also some interesting GEC concrete columns which look to be still in use on the approach to a steelworks just outside Hereford. A little further down the road in a nearby BT compound, there are at least 6 or so Benjamin type "shovel floods", presumably long out of use. On the approach road, you can also see a Falks Beaufort post top lantern.

When I last visted the area in 2008, the old Hereford cattle market was home to several 2' 40W fluorescent lanterns (I think they were AEI Residential lanterns, mounted over the outdoor cattle pens). Unfortunately, the pens were subsequently swept away in preparation for the demolition of the market. Today the site is now a major retail development.


Attachments:
File comment: A rare survivor these days. A Gamma 2.
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File comment: Another view of the same lantern. The door to the column has been taped in place, suggesting this lamp might still be in use.
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File comment: These old GEC concrete columns were once very common in the UK but have long been replaced. Here though on a private access road, three still survive.
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File comment: A selection of shovel floods in the BT compound just outside Hereford.
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File comment: The access road seems to have retained a Falks Beaufort post top lantern.
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