Exploring The Park Estate , and their unique gas lamps
Two evenings well spent within November taking a look at the urban landscape found the leafy Park Estate in Nottingham. The estate’s tennis courts sat within a natural dip with interesting views of buildings situated at the top of the hills on roads surrounding the estate.
A notable feature of the Park Estate and one I want to make some comments on is that all of the street lights are of the gas mantle form – one of the largest current networks of gas lights within the UK and outside of London.
The gas lights were quite different to other street lighting currently seen in terms of output power and range – giving enough light for wayfinding and to indicate the nearby area – but not so much as to wash out the surroundings , and especially contained to minimise light pollution. The photographs I’ve made do tell that story – the ambient night sky played a large role in lighting the street scenes. It was very dark – car headlights were bright enough sometimes to light entire street scenes.
Got to speak to engineer and inventor Brian Harper along the way for one of these evenings while he was servicing one of the lamps . We had a good chat as to how he had improved the designs to maximise efficiency. This was through inserting carefully positioned reflective mirrors into the bodies of the lights to focus and direct the output from the mantles onto where it’s needed most. Gas mantles are inefficient due to relying on black body radiation as a light source (only part of the radiation is visible , heat etc) – and so electric LED variants are being introduced which are much more.
Light pollution is a problem with many cities and it’s refreshing to see what a difference careful lighting design can make to the atmosphere of a city. I do wonder if cities in general can be lit in this way , with the Park being a private estate within Nottingham – it would take some adaptation for those living in cities to get used to the cityscape being lit by ambient sky light only and this may present some security issues in general.