How hundreds of Victorian Harrogate lamp-posts ended up on sale in Northern Ireland

For sale: Hundreds of Victorian-era lamp-posts which used to line Harrogate's streets.
For sale: Hundreds of Victorian-era lamp-posts which used to line Harrogate's streets.

Almost half a million pounds' worth of Victorian lamp-posts which once adorned Harrogate's streets are now on sale in a tiny Northern Ireland village.

Installed by Harrogate Gas Company in the mid-1800s , the vintage, cast-iron lamp-posts which lit the town's streets for more than a century were found to be unsafe by North Yorkshire County Council in 2015, with the authority scrapping hundreds of them.

The heritage listed posts today.

The heritage listed posts today.

However, more than 200 of the ornate posts have now re-emerged for sale in Northern Ireland, offered by Ryan and Smith, an international antiques supplier based out of the village of Stewartstown.

NYCC explained that the posts made their way to the business after being sold off to salvage dealers, after the council couldn't directly find a buyer.

Paul Gilmore, North Yorkshire's electrical engineering manager, explained:

"In 2015, 280 cast iron columns in Harrogate were urgently removed due to serious structural impairment, as widely reported at the time.
"The columns were too dangerous and too fragile to be repurposed and were, therefore, scrapped.

The bases of the Victorian lamp-posts.

The bases of the Victorian lamp-posts.

"Over the next 18 months about 350 further cast iron columns were removed. "We sold a handful to Harrogate residents and gave around 50 to Harrogate Civic Society on the condition that they would not be installed in public spaces.

"The remaining columns were put up for auction in accordance with our procurement rules. There were no bidders, so we contacted several local salvage dealers. One offer was placed, which we accepted."

Don Ryan, of Ryan and Smith, confirmed the business had purchased them off an English architectural salvage dealer.

Anyone interested can pick up a fully-restored post for £2000 inclusive of VAT, which includes a substantial amount of restorative work such as a new copper and glass hood and electrical wiring.

For those preferring to do the work themselves, the price of the posts in their current condition is £600 each.

Henry Pankhurst, the former chairman of the Harrogate Civic Society who played a key role in securing heritage protection for six of the lamp-posts on Montepellier Parade in 2016, said it was heartening that some of them might stand tall again.

"My main disappointment is that we lost most of them off our own streets," he said.

"On the other hand, (being sold) means at least some of them aren't being melted down, and some of them will be re-erected, I just hope they (new owners) know they're unique to Harrogate.

"Obviously if they're being sold in Ireland, there's some market for them."

The posts are undoubtedly Yorkshire and Harrogate influenced.

The square base includes an embossed decoration featuring a Yorkshire rose, while above that are a pair of small lion heads flanked by ornately shaped ladder rests.

Mr Pankhurst, who stepped down as society chair in June but remains on the committee, said he was proud the group's efforts in 2016 led to at least some of the lamp-posts being granted protection by Historic England and remaining on Harrogate's streets.

"We were very pleased we were able to do that," he said.

"They're something very unique for Harrogate."

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter