Vintage Industrial Lights IV: Minting

So we’ve achieved a semblance of order from the chaos that confronted us in Essex. All 75 Benjamin (and some Crompton) pendant lights have been dismantled, sorted into their constituent parts and stacked. The state of play is this:

  • Most galleries are in good to very good order; a few are pretty rusted and will need considerably more TLC, but we’re confident all will clean up. Clearly the Essex factory roof was in better condition in certain areas than others
  • The convex glass lenses, though some are filthy, are in fabulous condition. We’ve wondered aloud how much it would cost these days purely to get this 20-inch, 16-inch and 14-inch convex glass manufactured
  • The white interior enamel is generally in near-perfect order, because of the glass protecting the insides from the elements. The exterior grey enamel is in very good order, bar a couple of enamel holes
  • The collars that hold on the lenses are generally rusted, but nothing that will trouble the machines in Clive’s workshop or our Par sandblasting shop
  • Perhaps most amazingly, the electrical fittings, fully enclosed within the lights for 60-odd years, look as-new

The paramount job is to get one of each type of light into its very best order – Pat, originally from Oldham, calls it “minting” – so they can be photographed for the website and displayed in our shop at 9 South Street, Fowey. And so to Clive’s workshop.

We have two types of collar: a wire circle with clips for the RLMs and a spring-loaded Benjamin-branded collar for the 14-inch domes. Twenty minutes each on the wire brush machine and you’d never believe they were the same collars. The rust is gone, the original metal reappears and gratefully inhales deeply. The grey enamel is buffed up on the polishing wheel while Clive tinkers with the contacts on the electrical fittings.

Gradually, methodically, it’s all coming together.


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