Thorn Alpha 5

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  • Original Location- Easton-in-Gordano, Somerset
  • Date Removed- 2006
  • Reason- Upgrade from SOX to SON lighting

    Lantern- Thorn Alpha 5
    Lamp- 140W SLI/H
    Manufacture Date- 19??
    Control Gear- Remote
    Original Control- NEMA Socket

    The lantern runs a 135W SOX Plus lamp, but this is looking very likely to be a later alteration to the lantern. Originally it is thought that a 140w SLI/H 'Linear Sodium' lamp was fitted. This type of lamp, now long obsolete, is fitted with standard T12 fluorescent end caps, and so is mounted in the same fashion with double end caps. When the change to a single-ended SOX lamp was made, the far lampholder was removed completely, and a home made lampholder support created for the new BC lampholder. This is obviously an 'in-house' job as the support is made from an old piece of aluminium sign plate. I was not convinced at first that the lantern originally ran SLI/H lamps, but the fact that all the Alpha 5s which were removed had home made lampholder supports suggests that some conversion was carried out to all of them in the past.

    The lantern is in nice condition for its age, and the bowl is not bad at all. A good clean of the bowl and probably a repaint of the canopy inside will be all that is required for a cosmetic restoration. The intention in the future will be to convert the lantern back to running a Linear Sodium lamp, and hopefully once the necessary parts are sourced this should not be too difficult at all.

    Restoration news: following a visit from fellow collector John Thompson, I was able to convert the lantern back to run a 140w SLI/H lamp. This was due in the main to an excellent pack of parts made up by John to match as close as possible the original spec of the lantern. A new lampholder support was fabricated, and a pair of T12 fluorescent lampholders fitted. The far one is on a flying lead, with the lamp being supported by a 'Terry clip'. This appears to be the system used in one of the models of Alpha 5s during its production life.

    Steve Rowe did all the legwork in getting hold of this rare lantern for me; all his efforts paid off in the end.

    There is now only one Alpha 5 lantern remaining in Easton-in-Gordano, just off the main road on which this lantern resided.

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    The Alpha 5 is not used on the streets of Plymouth, for the simple reason that SOX lamps are not used in the area.

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    Davy Warren 2009