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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:22 pm 
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Location: Colchester, Essex
With Essex County Council on course to replace all ≥55W sodium lighting with LED by January 2019 and an end to re-lamping of expired mercury and sodium lanterns in favour of new LED fittings, Essex County Council's street lights will surely be all-LED by the mid 2020s. This frenetic pace of change means that the snow of early-March 2018, which was perhaps the best snowfall we have had in Essex in around 8 years, was probably the last chance to see MBF, SOX and SON illuminating the snow. The pictures below were taken in Colchester on the morning after "Storm Emma" added a fresh covering of snow on top of the "Beast from the East's" snow that arrived five days earlier.

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Whilst the county is still majority-lit with discharge lighting, part-night lighting still reigns supreme. All of the high wattage all-night lighting in Colchester was replaced with LEDs as part of phase 1 of Essex County Council's replacement by LEDs programme and all of the low wattage all-night lighting in Colchester was replaced with LEDs as part of phase 2. When the part-night street lights are off, overcast skies assumes this unusual colour-desaturated hue.

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In residential areas, the street lights switch on in unison at 5am. Pictured above is Victoria Chase in Colchester.

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As soon as full brightness is reached, the usual SOX-coloured sky glow returns to overcast skies.

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This picture and the one above it were taken in Causton Road.

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Margaret Road in Colchester still has locally-made cast iron posts with rhythmatic control boxes. The previous lanterns in this street are unknown, but the current lanterns are Thorn Beta Fives.

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Another photograph of Margaret Road, Colchester in the snow.

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Nearby Mercers Way has unsleeved ELECO slim columns with Thorn Beta Fives.

All the roads featured above are just outside the town centre. Thankfully, SOX lives on in the residential streets that immediately surround the town centre, and this is still the case for the vast majority of towns in Essex.

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The Dutch Quarter in Colchester - which is a residential area inside the town centre, has been slowly changing from SOX to SON in recent years.

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There are still many SOX lanterns to be found in Colchester's Dutch Quarter - mainly Phosco P111s and their Thorn Gamma Six post-top casual replacements and perhaps the occasional GEC Z9481. This recent development in the Dutch Quarter is still exclusively lit with Philips XGS 103s.

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We even have a couple of mercury Phosco P111s running in Colchester's Dutch Quarter. This one is at the junction of Maidenburgh Street and St. Helen's Lane.

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To my knowledge, these two lanterns are the only mercury-running Essex County Council street lights in Colchester. Colchester was an early adopter of sodium lighting and had many open sodium fittings that lasted into the 1980s. Privately, Colchester Railway Station still has mercury-running GEC Z8536 turtles in nightly service.

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The two solitary mercury-running Phosco P111s in Colchester's Dutch Quarter. I wish there were more!

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The street lighting on the footpaths across Castle Park - which links the town centre and the Dutch Quarter to the surrounding residential areas featured above - is switched on all night. They were therefore a high priority for conversion to LED.

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The North Bridge on North Station Road, which was converted to LED as part of phase one of Essex County Council's replacement by LEDs programme. An earlier photograph of this view featured on Essex County Council's Street Lighting Operational Plan in 2015.

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Victoria Chase - as pictured earlier in this post at the 5am switch-on - is photographed above as the darkness of night begins to give way to twilight.

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Margaret Road, featured earlier in this post, as photographed in the twilight of dawn.

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Mercers Way, as also featured earlier in this post, photographed in the twilight of dawn.

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Market Close is a more recent residential development near to Colchester town centre, and is lit with Chalmit Davis GR70 lanterns.

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Mason Road in Colchester has the old-style Philips MA90s with the streamline shoe.

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Back in the 1960s, or possibly the late-1950s, Cowdray Avenue was relit with a seemingly unending installation of Atlas / Thorn Alpha Ones. They were all sleeved in the 1970s. This is the only one left.

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It was with incredible good fortune that it stayed on long after most of the other street lights in the road had been switched off by Essex County Council's Central Management System, allowing me to see and photograph an Alpha One in the snow for the very last time.

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Colchester still has a reasonable quantity of Alpha Ones as of March 2018, but they have been much-depleted in recent years and will be wiped out entirely by January 2019.

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The same scene a little later on.

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As it's an Alpha One, and we can never tire of seeing pictures of Alpha Ones, here is a final close-up image.

It's hard to believe that this lantern was launched in 1955 and they still look this good 63 years later. It is a great shame that, just 10 months from now, there will be none left in Essex. I would like to place a bet that the LED street lighting currently being installed in Colchester will not have the longevity of the Alpha One and will still be lighting Colchester's streets in 2081, but I won't be around to cash in my payout.

So there we have it. Unless Essex County Council suddenly suffer the same fate as Northamptonshire County Council and run out of cash, or we get decent snowfalls every winter for the next few years, this month's snowfall was probably the last chance to see snow-lit streets illuminated by MBF, SOX and SON, and certainly the last chance to photograph large-wattage SOX in the snow. I was blessed that I live within walking distance of all of the above installations and was able to capture the above photographs in around two hours.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:52 pm 
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As ever, fantastic pics and thanks for taking the effort to capture these scenes before they go.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:18 pm 
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Excellent photos David, such a shame that they are taken in sad circumstances!


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