Colchester’s Cast Iron Lampposts
A recent survey by Robert Mercer (for Colchester Civic Society) has established that Colchester currently has 300 unique cast iron lampposts. These were made for the Borough Council by a number of Colchester Foundries during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. The pattern, or wooden former used to produce these castings was owned by Colchester Borough Council and passed to the foundry which had the current contract to supply castings for the street lighting. Originally these would have all been for gas lights but in due course they were converted to electric lighting. At the time of the last survey by Ewan Russell (father of Sir Bob Russell) in the late 1970’s and early 80’s counted 555. Clearly if something isn’t done to conserve at least some of these lampposts then a part of Colchester’s industrial heritage and its Victorian/Edwardian street scene will be lost for ever.
To make matters worse the remaining lampposts have not had a coat of paint since Essex County Highways took over from Colchester Borough in 2005 and many are now in a very sorry state, as these photos clearly illustrate.
Colchester Civic Society is determiined to conserve at least some of our diminishing stock of Colchester made cast iron lampposts. We regard them as a significant part of Colchester’s Heritage and as such should not be allowed to be lost through neglect.
Colchester Civic Society aims to try to ensure the future of these posts in any way possible, including “ Local Listing “ from Colchester Council, which might then lead to the greater powers of national listing. But our primary aim has been to find some way for maintenance work to be carried out in order to slow down the deterioration of the towns remaining stock.
This has now taken a significant step forward. Roman and Castle Road Residents Association are already collaborating with County Highways to help maintain pavements and trees in their conservation area. This collaboration has now been extended to the maintenance of the cast iron lampposts in these streets. County highways have provided paint and volunteers from the association will begin repainting this summer with the aid of Locality Budget funding from ward councillors and insurance cover from Colchester Civic Society
Colchester Civic Society stands ready to help progress further projects of this sort and we invite other groups and individuals to get involved in setting up similar projects for other areas of the town where cast iron lampposts have survived.
The survey below details the location and type of the remaining cast iron street lamps, including information on the Colchester Foundries who made the castings for Colchester Council.