Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Doulton Fountain lights (and more)

One of the things that never ceases to irritate me is the installation of high-maintenance

ing on new attractions, and in new buildings.

In most cases this looks great – the day it was installed!

But, unless it’s been fitted to something owned by a company worth billions, the chances are it will never be maintained, and slowly fail over the years without proper care and maintenance.

As examples of this ‘great idea’ failing, have a look at the internal stairs in GoMA (Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, connecting the upper floors, and to be found in the north west corner. You’ll find some circles of wood stuck into the risers – where these stairs used to have light shining onto the steps.

Next example can be seen behind the Doulton Fountain on Glasgow Green, where you can see a stairway in the pic below (just to the right of the centre and a descending jet of water).

Look closely and you will see only two lights remain lit on those steps, the rest are dead.

Click for bigger.

Doulton Fountain Lights

Doulton Fountain Lights

I came across this pic taken of the steps two or the years ago, when they were already down to only a few.

Although many appear to be lit, in fact, most are reflecting the sky in this evening shot, and you have to look carefully to spot the ones that are actually lit.

Doulton Fountain Step Lights

Doulton Fountain Step Lights

And this was a year earlier still.

Glasgow Green Doulton stair lights

Glasgow Green Doulton stair lights

As of a check in 2018, I found NONE of the stair lights remained lit, and there are three across each riser.

I’ve no idea how many lights have failed on the fountain now, but I’m pretty sure if I looked, the view would be different from that seen above.

While larger floods, spots, and washes seem to fare reasonably well, things like lights installed into the ground, or into stairs just seem to be a waste of time and money, as they are seldom maintained.

I had a pic of those GoMA stairs I mentioned earlier. Those used to be halogen fitting, as the original installation predated LEDs.

GOMA stairs

GoMA stairs

I’m willing to accept it is not the council’s fault or cutbacks,

More likely oversold by the lighting vendor, with claims of low maintenance with modern fittings, meaning that was never any ‘Care & Maintenance’ budget put in place. Some of the sales ‘pitches’ I’ve seen for LEDs border on ‘magic’ rather than even possible reality. Now being made WORSE as installers overdrive them to make them ever brighter – which kills their life expectancy, now sometimes LESS than the incandescents they often replace.

But, it the LEDs that get the blame, NOT the shoddy installers and vendors.

I found a test video I shot of the fountain, so converted and uploaded too.

Nice water sounds!

11/02/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Doulton Fountain – the other side

While collecting some pics of the People’s Palace recently, it occurred to me that most pics of the Doulton Fountain (famously rescued from its original position closer to Saltmarket, where it was slowly dying at the hands of vandals, after becoming derelict), it occurred to me that most pics tended to show it with the Palace being, since it was relocated the museum’s forecourt.

So, I convinced myself to stop on the way home one evening, and grab a pic from ‘the other side’, fortunately with a ‘serious’ camera.

It came out surprisingly bright and detailed, despite being taken in fading light.

Uplighting from the floodlights helped bring up the lower section, which would have otherwise been shaded by the overhanging section above.

Glasgow Green Doulton Fountain

Glasgow Green Doulton Fountain

Hard to believe this has been here since 2005.

I was looking for pics of it in its original location, but only came up with one, not shared.

I’m sure I have some, but will need to get around to sitting down and digitising the pics I have on film.

I always seem to say… “I’ll do it tomorrow”.

24/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Were feature lights a bad design idea?

It’s not often that technology moves fast enough to render your thoughts almost redundant as you are having them, but that could be the case with this observation – and why the post is ‘Were feature lights a bad design idea’, rather than ‘Are…’

Designers have often tried to use lighting to emphasise features and make otherwise plain structures look more interesting and engaging, and that’s no bad thing. Carefully positioned lighting, well positioned, not dazzling the observer or shining straight into their eyes, but used to pick out or emphasis a shape, or introduce a point of interest can add to the appearance of a design element. Let’s not even go to the dark side – it’s often self-evident because you just don’t want to look.

In the past, one of the main failings of this technique has been the short life of the bulbs used, meaning that unless the owner is prepared to keep on coughing up the cost of ownership, and maintain the installations by renewing the bulbs before, or as, they fail, them the original vision will always be lost, as there will always be failed bulbs on view.

The two pics I caught recently show this effect quite well.

The first was taken in GoMA, Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art. Here we have some wooden disks apparently stuck into the stairs with no obvious reason, but regular visitors will know that these cover the holes left behind when the lamp fitting were removed from the stairs, presumably when the owners got fed up replacing the bulbs when the died, or got fed up with the dead and dark light fittings, which were ultimately seldom to be found with working bulbs installed.

I don’t know if these were ever a good idea (at the time). While they cast a nice glow and pattern on each step, they shone in the eyes of anyone looking up the stairs (so count as fail under my rules) , and were probably kicked by those of lesser intelligence, just ‘for fun’, which would have reduced their life.

So now they’re history.

GOMA stairs

GoMA stairs – no lights now

The second example was spotted on the same day, but is not as old that seen in GoMA.

Leaving the People’s Palace, the early onset of dusk meant I could see how many bulbs had failed in the steps leading to the restored and relocated Doulton Fountain, restored in 2005. 36 fittings had only 18 were illuminated.

This would look really nice if all were lit, but sadly, half of them are dead – and when we have dark evenings too, which would the best time to have them all working.

Glasgow Green Doulton stair lights

Glasgow Green Doulton stair lights

The interesting thing is that today, in 2014, we are in the middle of a lighting revolution.

LED (light emitting diode) technology has matured in the past few years, and gone from being something that was promised to something that has been delivered.

LEDs can be delivered in any colour, or colour temperature, and at brightness levels that are the equal of anything they might be used to replace. Power consumption (dependent on application and type) is anything from 50% to 20% of old technology, and service life can be anything from 20,000 to 50,000 hours.

Even as I write, I have bulletins arriving on my desk which announce new design that provide even brighter replacement for specialist bulbs, and yet more improvements in output and service life for ‘ordinary’ replacements. The only downside is that of initial cost, but even that is falling, as the initial R&D costs are rolled into increasing production numbers. Buyers just have to beware they are not suckered, and are ripped of by rogue designers who make silly claims, and price their lamps as if they were unique.

So, the problems of the stairs I happened to come across on the same day are really a thing of the past.

GoMA could refit its stairwell lights with LED fittings that would not burn out a few hours after being fitted, nor would they suffer almost instant death if kicked by brainless neds (since they have no fragile hot filaments), and for that type of fitting, 20-50,000 hours would mean little maintenance needed. And we have not even touched on the vastly reduced power consumption.

The Doulton Fountain steps could benefit similarly, as they are not high power lights anyway, so once fitted would last for thousands of hours and need minimal maintenance.

22/03/2014 Posted by | council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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