MORE than 200 cast iron lamp columns in Reading will be refurbished and retained following a recent survey of historic lamp posts across the borough.
Over the past two years the Council has replaced 4,000 lighting columns and 13,500 lanterns with modern energy-efficient LED lighting. Not only will this reduce energy and maintenance costs by 50%, it also ensures the safety of lamp columns across the borough for future years.
As part of the upgrade, the Council has been working closely with members of the Conservation Area Advisory Committee to explore ways of keeping as many historic cast iron columns in use as possible, whilst acknowledging serious structural faults had been found in some cases.
A survey of the 323 cast iron street lighting columns which adorn streets in various parts of the borough is now complete. Many were found to be in good structural condition, other than the ‘swan neck’ brackets which hold the lanterns in place and which are in need of replacement.
As a result of the survey work, 186 of the columns which are internally wired and have doors, will be fully refurbished over the coming year.
In addition, 20 of the remaining 137 columns directly connected to the mains and which do not have doors, will also be refurbished and have external isolators fitted. Work is now underway with the Conservation Area Advisory Committee to identify which 20 of the 137 columns best represent a cross section of historic columns found in Reading. Refurbishment work is expected to begin later this year.
The remaining 117 cast iron columns will be removed and replaced with steel columns as a result of serious structural faults which could cause safety issues for the public.
Councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The planned refurbishment and retention of more than 200 historic cast iron lamp columns across the town is the culmination of a borough-wide survey to explore what is possible in terms of keeping as many of these much-loved lamp posts in use.
“The Council fully appreciates the heritage value of Reading’s cast iron columns, some of which were made by foundries based in Reading.
“Working alongside the Conservation Area Advisory Committee, our preference was of course to keep as many of these columns in place where possible. However, we were aware before the survey work began that there were serious structural faults with some, which means we have little choice but to replace them with steel columns on the obvious grounds of public safety.
“I am nevertheless pleased that 206 will now be refurbished and retained by the Council as fully functioning light columns for future generations to enjoy. Work will now begin with Conservation Area Advisory Committee colleagues to identify the columns which best represent the cross section of historic columns in Reading.”