Bulkhead lights derive their name from the upright partitions which divide the hull of a ship into compartments. These partitions, or bulkheads, serve to add structural rigidity to a vessel and in addition prevent the spread of leakage or fire. In the event of a collision they contain the flow of water which might otherwise flood into the hold and sink the ship. To retain the efficacy of these partitions, doors are hung higher than usual leaving a ‘step’ which creates an obvious tripping hazard and leads to the necessity, in dark conditions, for good waterproof lighting.
Having their roots back in industrial, and particularly maritime history, bulkhead lights retain a rugged appeal. Developed in the early part of the twentieth century for use in marine conditions, the rigorous demands of the maritime environment have led to typical features such as robust cast metal casings and galvanised finishes, watertight seals and protective metal cages. These features all contribute towards the solid and utilitarian appeal of bulkhead lighting, which looks great and serves especially well in a space that emphasises the raw materials of its build.