Friday, 12 May 2017

GWR Lamp post story

It's always interesting to source heritage assets for the railway, and when you can't, you do the next best thing, which is to borrow one, and have a replica made.

For Broadway, we tried to buy genuine GWR lamp posts - we needed 22 of them for the platforms alone. Buying so many at auction, with scarce supplies and high prices, was not a realistic way forward, we soon discovered. So a kind sponsor offered to pay for a pattern, and we had our own replicas cast.

We bought 18 replicas for Broadway, of which 10 in turn were also sponsored by kind supporters. The last of the 18 are about to be installed in the space vacated by the 5 containers moved away from platform 1. We already have the tops, so it should look a bit more complete there very shortly.

We decided to see if we could sell some of the replicas. With the (modest) profit we could buy further heritage assets for the railway.

Today was interesting because the buyer of two actually had two genuine but longer posts for sale, for which we found GWSR buyers at Cheltenham Race Course. To save on transport, we decided to collect the two posts for sale from the buyer, and at the same time deliver the two replicas to him. Normally, it's buyer collects!

We set off from Winchcombe in the company Transit with the two castings on board, a crew of three consisting of David T from the Friends of Cheltenham, John S of Broadway and yours truly. Once again, a multi disciplinary action, together forward!

The delivery was complicated, as the lamp posts CRC were buying were in a field in one village, while the castings were to be delivered to a house in another. At one point, we had both on board, leading to this rather full load, all of which was lifted in manually. Four people heaved and struggled, but we did it.

What the buyer forgot to mention was that the delivery point was up a steep and narrow path on top of a bank - this photograph was taken only half way up.

We were treated to a hot cup of tea, and a pint of beer in the local pub, so hard labour is not quite its own reward. You also get to meet the most interesting people. All great fun.

The final act in our interesting swap day was the delivery of the taller, genuine posts to Cheltenham Race Course station. Getting the posts off was easier than getting them on, but they were still heavy. Here John and David take 5 after lifting the posts off the truck. It was rather satisfying to see all this achieved at the end of the day. Everyone happy, and the railway some heritage lamp posts richer. CRC will, in due course, install these in the vicinity of the platform 2 slope down from the top.

So why 'swap' replicas for real ones? The answer lies in their length. There are 3 types of GWR cast iron lamp post:

The first one is a 'No.1 (confusingly stamped 'No.2') which is the standard platform lamp post. Above is a drawing and a photograph of one at CRC. It is 6ft above ground, and 2ft below, so 8ft long in total. This is the one for which we have commissioned a pattern.

The second one is a bit longer, and was used in larger spaces, such as forecourts. Because it is longer, it had the option of a ladder bar, which however was not always present. The smaller type did not need a ladder bar, as it could be opened for the replacement of the lamp by anyone standing on the platform. The larger type was 8ft above ground, so 10ft long in total. We managed to find three of these for Broadway, where they have been planted on the forecourt.
If you look in the back of the truck, and compare the photographs, you can see that the No.2 is longer than the No.1 by 2ft.

Lastly, there is the No.3 type. This one is relatively rare, as it is much taller than the other two, being 13'6'' above ground. How did the GWR achieve this? Simple, they just planted a No.2 post on top of a fluted column. This tall model was to illuminate large spaces, such as railway yards, or a turntable area, as in the picture above. It is known in the parlance as the Yard lamp.
Our little team actually managed to acquire one of these last year, and the plan is to install it at Toddington behind the water tower. It will make a lovely set there. Ours even has its original ladder still attached. It is currently awaiting its turn with the shotblasters.

To raise funds for the railway, we do sell additional castings of the No.1 platform type, so if you are interested, send an email to breva2011(at) You'll be helping us, as well as yourself.


  1. I can see where the 2nd lamp post is situated at the sign on it is a dead give away!! But where is the 3rd post situated? I am guessing at the South Devon or West Somerset railways. Am I correct in any of my guesses? Lovely pictures by the way and very informative. If there are any modellers reading these blogs (actually, there must be many), then they will now know where their model lamps should be positioned on their GWR layouts. Great reportage. Regards, Paul.

    1. I suspect you'll find it's by the turntable at Minehead.

    2. I go to minehead every Easter, and yes it is indeed by the turntable.

    3. Thanks for the info guys. I remember from my SVR days that Highley had a pair for the foot crossing. Regards, Paul.

  2. Is your casting where the Helston group obtained their lamps from recently?

    1. I don't know where Helston got theirs from, but it wasn't from us. If you buy from us, the GWSR gets to keep the (modest) profit.

  3. Yes!. the third lamp post,is definatley at Minehead!.I,was down there,a couple of weeks ago,fo the WSR's Spring Gala!. It was rather good!. Anthony.