A Letter from Nantwich

April 2008 (5)                                                                                     

New lamps for old

- WILL THEY BE ALL RIGHT?                The official word on the lights | Update

A last picture of the stylish lights in the Well of St Mary's Parish Church.  The Well is an area outside the West Door of the church, laid at a lower level to line up with the floor inside the building. The new lights are to the left of the picture, before the lamps were put on top

OLDER lights around St Mary's Parish Church in the centre of Nantwich have been removed and are being replaced with new ones. 

   At first, I thought it was a shame to see examples of Nantwich history being lost and replaced with some modern, shiny silver alternatives.

   I was sure the old lights were Victorian. However, an old 8mm cinefilm I made about the church back in 1960s reassured me they couldn't be much older than the early 1970s (old enough to anyone under 35, but quite recent for someone of my generation ! ). The frame from the film (left) shows one of the lamps in situ in 1967 - a much more modern looking lamp than the ones that have just been taken away.

   Having learned more about the reasons for the change, I am sure there isn't anything to worry about. The lamps in the Well, in particular, I learn were rusted at the base and so, presumably, at risk of falling on some passer-by - with the inevitable compensation claim. Also, the lamps had developed a fault which meant they couldn't be turned off! So they were disconnected.

   Next, I was assured that once the lights had been fully installed they would be "aged" to make them in keeping with others in the town centre area. They are already a number of lights around the perimeter of the churchyard which have been there for a while - as shown by the peeling black paint.

   As long as the new lights are the same style as those, everything should be well. I was all set to do a "knocking piece", stating my disgust about the change when I heard what was planned.

  

By coincidence, while I was researching the story, Darren McDean (calling himself "True Dabber") sent me an e-mail asking: "Am I the only person who's concerned by the introduction of new lighting and the removal of the old style lampposts around the church? I think it's disgusting what the council are doing in the conservation area."

   I e-mailed him back, telling him what I had heard, and a happier Darren replied: "It sounds good that they're going to 'age' the posts."  

   He sent me a couple of pictures (left and right), with one illustrating another gripe he had with the changes. This was the one showing where a trench had been dug between two old gravestones in the south-east corner of the churchyard. He assumed it was for the mains cable, adding: "Not very respectful."   
   I don't know what, if anything, happened during the digging of the trench, so I can't comment on that.

l However, no further comment will be needed. See the official reply from a Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council Department below.     

   

The modern surface of the new lights  - at the moment

 

The old and the new . . . foreground, one of the 1970s light that used to stand in the Well. In the distance, one of the lights erected near to the Market Hall.

 

One of the present

lights in Churchyardside

"Dressing kits will make the new lights look very similar to, if not the same as, the lights that have been removed"

I asked Charlie Griffies, the Assistant Parks Manager, in the Direct Services of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, about the final look of the lights and what had brought about the need for their replacement. This is his reply:

 

THE lights needed renewing because they were being constantly targeted by vandals due (we felt) to the fact that they are only approximately four metres high. Also, the feed to the lights had reached the end of its life, meaning that the electricians could not maintain an earth feed into the columns. Then there is the on-going deterioration which you have already discussed in your article.

   The positioning of the new lights, and all the on-site work, was done following consultation, and agreement with the Rev Peter Chantry (Rector of Nantwich).

   The lamps that have been installed are only the base support; they still have to have “dressing kits” which will make them look very similar, if not the same as, the lights that have been removed. The lights will not be identical with one of the main differences being that the new ones will be 1.5 metres higher to prevent a reoccurrence of the vandalism, whilst reducing glare from the lantern head.

   The new lights will have better lanterns and light assemblies to enable the light given off to cast further, and this also means that the lights will conform to a recognised European standard. The new lights will be standard “units” meaning that any maintenance should be simplified with all parts being off the shelf as opposed to a special order.

   The contractor has assured me today (April 15) that the lights will be fully installed and working in 4 to 6 weeks. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be seeing anything going on in the interim, although it is dependant on the weather for painting and Scottish Power for the new electrical connection into the feeder pillars.

   All of these factors should help to “light the way” for the people using the paths around the church during the hours of darkness.

l As a side point, I have found out today that the lights were installed in 1976, and this project was overseen by one of the officers still employed in Direct Services. The lights were only part of an overall improvement package that was carried out around the church at that time.

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