Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Let There Be Light!

After a long absence, the lighting system at Penshaw Monument has returned in all it's glory...and more! For many years the Monument was lit up from dusk till dawn and it could be seen from many miles around, as it dominated the skyline and rightly placed itself highly in the ranks of North-East iconic Landmarks. To be fair, Penshaw Monument was always 'Up there' with the best of the rest in our region, but it was the idea of lighting it up that really propelled the icon to another level, showing it in it's best form - even better close up. Industrial strength halogen lights were initially installed and Sunderland Council met the cost, with the help of local tax payers of course (wink). Illuminating Penshaw Monument, a folly built in 1844 on Penshaw Hill between the districts of Washington and Houghton-le-Spring, was exactly what is deserved. Climbing the hill covers a distance in height of 446 feet, and although I've climbed those steps hundreds of times before, I'll probably do it all over again, although each climb seems to get that little bit tougher as the years pass. Although many a nice shot can be had from the foot of the hill, you simply can't visit without taking in the views from the top and inside the columns of the Monument. Although quite windy at times, it's well worth braving the elements to grab the visitor experience in full, so avoiding the climb isn't an option for me. Up I go.

Two years ago the original lighting was replaced with a hi-tech LED lighting system. The Philips Colour Reach lights cost in the region of £46,000 and once again Sunderland Council were dipping into their fully laden pockets to fund the project. No sooner were the lights in place and ready for the big switch on, when they mysteriously vanished. Aye, nimble fingered thieves decided to remove the lights and that was that. Standstill, for many months. A real pity and one that wasn't gonna deter Sunderland Council for too long, although admittedly it seemed to take an age before their contingency plan was up and running. And the plan was...well, a new set of lights of course. Security of the metal housing was beefed up somewhat to avoid a repeat performance, resulting in even more money down the drain, so here we were...ready to go once again. About time too.

The new lights will reduce energy costs by up to 80 per cent and save around £8,000 a year in running costs and will provide a softer white effect allowing the true colour of the monument to be seen. Altogether, 18 floodlights mounted within enclosures at the base of each pillar were installed. The floodlights can also be programmed to display colour changing light effects meaning special anniversaries or events such as football celebrations could be highlighted in colour on the monument.

At the tail end of August 2015, I grabbed my first shots of Penshaw Monument and it's new lighting system. The transformation was a real eye-opener, especially when the landmark had been in complete darkness at night for many months. We had our icon back to its former glories and hopefully this time round it would remain that way. The original switch saw the Monument in it's previous colour, a warm yellow, which was looked prefect on the stonework, but was it wasn't long before the lights would be displayed in a totally different way. Colour cycles were performed at timed intervals, in multi-coloured displays. Sunderland Gay Pride weekend coincided with a rainbow effect display, which is shown here and by far being the most spectacular show to date.

The terrorist attacks in Paris during November 2015 marked a full week of respect by Sunderland Council as the Monument was lit in the colours of the Tricolor (French National Flag) to honour the many innocent lives that were lost. This attracted thousands of visitors to Penshaw Monument as another mark of respect during the week the blue, white and red colours were on display. Again, I made another short visit to the site to pay respect and join in with many others who took photographs.
So, in a nutshell, here is a small selection of shots that I captured during the four months I have briefly covered in this blog entry. More can be seen on my website at ashleycorr.com, so feel free to pop over to take a look. And there's more blog entries to come, as I catch up with a backlog of photographs from the last few months. Stay tuned...