...has now commenced! A wooden shield has been erected around the lamp while the work is in progress.
Here's a summary of what is being done:
The column itself is made of cast iron. After twenty years in situ there is a fair bit of rust, so the column needs to be stripped down and repainted. Additionally, the posting box also needs attention - the box has now been removed by Royal Mail and needs welding to repair a longstanding crack and repainting. The lantern head needs substantial repair, having been distorted out of shape by heat over time - usual life expectancy is only about 15 years for lantern heads. The frog that the lantern sits on is custom made; it will have to be removed and re-painted. Suggs will repair the head, fitting new burners and as technology has moved on in twenty years, the restored head will contain the electronic control unitthat automatically opens the gas valve to light the lamp when it gets dark and shuts it off again during the day - at the moment there is a separate control unit in the base of the lamp - this will become redundant. The gas supply to the lamp is controlled by a regulator, again in the base of the column, and this needs to be removed and possibly replaced.
The custom built wooden shield will protect the column and help access to the various parts as they are being worked on, and also assist with safe replacement of the posting box - which is extremely heavy. Children at local schools have provided some artwork to be fixed to the shield, and look out for updates on the restoration process and current progress. And, last but not least, the bench will need to be repainted and repaired.
Total cost of the repairs is estimated at about £5,000 - £1,000 of this will be the cost of repairing the custom made head - welding and renewing the pipework are likely to be the other major items. Costs assume the labour will otherwise be largely provided by volunteers - any help gratefully received, please contact the Friends of the Valentine Gas Lamp at firstname.lastname@example.org
The column was made locally, probably about 1890 or earlier, and is made of cast iron. It was originally constructed in two sections with the joint "lead caulked" and located just below the "mushroom" feature. Blow holes in the casting were infilled with lead in the traditional manner. The base control cover plate was made in 1992, of mild steel, nickel plated, as are all the other external parts added in 1992.
An original George V "rural" design, cast iron posting box which originally was designed to be clamped to lamp posts and later, telegraph poles or pillars. The mounting brackets were custom made on 1992 to accommodate the tapered column, the original fixing holes in the box being blanked off with domed coach bolts. The hoops were threaded Whitworth 1/2 inch to match the original hoops.
The collection plate and collection tabs are vitreous enamelled, almost a dying art today, on low carbon steel; the collection tabs display the GPO box number 37 which is specific to this box only. The brass tab holder is retained and the box was fitted with a new brass lock of traditional design, adapted to fit the casting pillars, in 1992.