The Anglepoise Table Lamp

Adele Shotton-Pugh | Posted

The Anglepoise is a truly iconic British lamp that can be found in most homes around the country if not the western world.

It was first dreamt up in 1932 by George Carwardine, a car designer by trade, who stumbled upon the mechanism for the lamp, whilst trying to develop new ideas for car suspensions. Realising this mechanism which involved the balancing of an object in three planes of movement, would make an extremely versatile, multi-directional task lamp, he approached Herbert Terry in the summer of 1933.

Herbert Terry, the founder of Herbert Terry & Sons had begun a winding spring business in a terraced house in Redditch in the early 1900s which very quickly progressed to Terry acquiring its first premises. By the time George approached him, Herbert Terry was already a famous name in lighting design.

The design was viewed as having a great deal of potential and so Terry's licensed the design from George and began to manufacture the Anglepoise 1208 in 1933, which used 4 special springs, made only by Terry’s.

By 1935 the lamp was a huge success and a light design was needed for a more domestic application and so in 1935 the 3 spring Anglepoise 1227 was born. This product is viewed by many as the classic Anglepoise.

Today, Anglepoise still retains members of the Terry family as part of their management team and in 80 years the light itself has hardly changed a bit.

For designers, engineers, architects and scientists the lamp is extremely useful. Able to hold itself at any angle without the need for another person or constant re-clamping, it is a great time saver when it is needed to illuminate intricate work. However which such an individual look it was never going to remain shut away in offices and laboratories and is a fantastic purchase for the home- adding style and individuality to any room.

Available in a multitude of different colours it can be used as a stand out piece in a subdued office if bought in racy red and set on a desk against a backdrop of teal curtains or wooden blinds. Alternatively, its lithe and slender body can be almost invisible if you wished for it to blend into the background on a bedside table, revealing itself only when switched on and angled perfectly for a bedtime read.

Now may also be the perfect time to pick up an Anglepoise. Why? Read on-

Lots of people like their household items to come with a story, this usually means trawling the nearest car boot sale or local antiques store and listening to made up tales from the suspicious looking behind the till. If you are one of those people, then the Anglepoise might save you a Sunday afternoon.

In 1948, the Board of Governors of the BBC asked the head of the Variety Department Michael Standing to draw up a guiding set of moral standards and guidelines for the production of all BBC radio and television programs. Standing produced something that became commonly know within the BBC as the ‘Green Book ’. The purpose of the book was to eradicate smut, innuendo and vulgarity from all BBC programs.

Mr Standing took his work very seriously and with disconcertingly military zeal, went about putting banning orders on anything he considered capable of poisoning the mind of a BBC employee. Somehow, the Anglpoise fell under this bracket and in June 1949, a memo was issued to all staff which forbade employees to illuminate any room with an Angle poise lamp unless the main ceiling or wall mounted light was also illuminated. Standing held a firm belief that “a man working at a desk in a confined space with only the light from a low-wattage lamp would nurture furtive ideas and produce degenerate program material”!

Despite Mr Standing’s viewpoint, an Anglepoise is a great buy and a classic piece of British design- just be sure to leave the ceiling light on when you use it!


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