We like to keep in close touch with Blackpool Illuminations, so four of us (totally at our own expense, I hasten to add!) took ourselves off up to Blackpool for a visit to their workshops last Friday. As ever, we learned a great deal; about record keeping, electronics, new forms of transformers, mains switching and other matters, purchased some new flashing lamps, and agreed to buy replacement festoon cables ready to re-cable certain sections next year, where the cables and / or the lampholders are getting a bit long in the tooth. Those people there are the true masters of the craft, and we had a good tour of the illuminations afterwards. It is also good to see that those in charge up there are as enthusiastic and mad about their illuminations as ever. All nerds together! We must have been mad to do this in a day; it took six hours to get there, due to problems on the M6, and three back.
Back home, Sunday No.5 was devoted to going through all the lights so far erected, replacing dud lamps and correcting other faults, installing droppers and bows, testing all the trips for correct operation, and measuring the electricity consumption for the suppliers (subject to minor additions next week). In case you were wondering, the supplies are, in the main, off spurs from the street lighting circuits, and unmetered. We are billed by calculating the current flowing and specifying the hours of operation, and that gives an accurate figure. With LED technology, we have seen a reduction of eighty percent in consumption. If ever there was an advert for low-energy lighting, this is it.
We have also made a small extension down Sherford Street; we would like to do more here in due course and, if it were possible, extend Pump Street to the Bypass as well in the future, but there are many hurdles to be overcome. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, work is going on building and rebuilding a couple of set pieces; a frantic race to get matters complete in time. Arrangements for the switch-on are progressing; this year, the new Grotto will be at the Falcon; a full programme of events will be out this Wednesday, and distributed throughout the town.