Valentine Lamp

The Frome Valentine’s Lamp is located at the top of Catherine Hill and is one of the town’s most romantic landmarks. This is actually a working gas lamp, the only one in Somerset, that is dedicated to the memory of St. Valentine. Every years there are lighting ceremonies when the gas lamp is lit for the first time.

A six-paned, 3 mantle gas lantern on a column cast in a local foundry, it is set amidst a heart-shaped ring of cobbled stones. A ‘love seat’ nearby catches the glow of the gas lamp, looking down the historic cobbled street of Catherine Hill. The lamp even has attached a renovated George V posting box attached – for your love letter or Valentine card.

Frome’s famous Valentine Gas Lamp has been celebrated in ceremony for the past 24 years. The lamp is located at the top of Catherine Hill, and every year at 5:30pm on Valentines Day Reg Ling, the lamp’s renovator, sets off a rocket, summoning lantern-goers to the site. At 6:00pm he starts the lighting ceremony, using the original lamp lighters’ pole.

The Friends of the Valentine Gas Lamp group has been established to maintain and preserve the lamp in this very historical street of Frome, so that future generations can enjoy, appreciate  and celebrate its history and beauty.  The Trust now requires funds and practical support to repaint and decorate the elaborate and symbolic lamp column and the George V posting box, and to repair or replace the glass lantern, on all of which the ravages of weather. Total cost of the repairs is estimated at about £5,000 – £1,000 of this will be the cost of repairing the custom made head – welding and renewing the pipework are likely to be the other major items. Costs assume the labour will otherwise be largely provided by volunteers – any help or donations gratefully received, please contact the Friends of the Valentine Gas Lamp at enquires@valentinegaslamp.com

About the Lamp

The Column

The column was made locally, probably about 1890 or earlier, and is made of cast iron. It was originally constructed in two sections with the joint “lead caulked” and located just below the “mushroom” feature. Blow holes in the casting were infilled with lead in the traditional manner. The base control cover plate was made in 1992, of mild steel, nickel plated, as are all the other external parts added in 1992.

Posting Box

An original George V “rural” design, cast iron posting box which originally was designed to be clamped to lamp posts and later, telegraph poles or pillars.  The mounting brackets were custom made on 1992 to accommodate the tapered column, the original fixing holes in the box being blanked off with domed coach bolts. The hoops were threaded Whitworth 1/2 inch to match the original hoops.

The collection plate and collection tabs are vitreous enamelled, almost a dying art today, on low carbon steel; the collection tabs display the GPO box number 37 which is specific to this box only. The brass tab holder is retained and the box was fitted with a new brass lock of traditional design, adapted to fit the casting pillars, in 1992.

Hearts on Cube

Added to the original column in 1992 – cast in lead with the outer faces left to cool naturally with no finishing prior to gold leaf application.

Ladder Bar

Again added in 1992, a mild steel bar with hand forged arrow and feathers slotted and part forged to the bar. The bar is welded into the spigot head.

Frog

The six legged frog which carries the lamp head was hand formed by wrapping it around the spigot head and then screwed and welded for a secure and rigid mounting.

Lamp Head

Hand-made by Sugg Ltd Of Crawley in 1992, in traditional Westminster style, a six pane, single door, all-copper construction carrying a three light burner with mantels and pilot light. Air supply is by balanced flue via the top of the lamp head, which gives good resistance to high wind conditions.

Gas Supply

From street mains to gas valve inset in the paving – reducing down to 8mm copper at the lamp base.

In the base, mounted on a hardwood panel, are fitted the gas cock, regulator, test bleed, and the timer box, all being arranged to pass through the small panel hole cuts in the casting. This is required for repairs or maintenance work; the working gas pressure is 8 inches water gauge. Just below the lamp head a second valve is fitted, having a brass heart-shaped lever to take chains for ceremonial purposes. The chains allow the valve to be opened and closed from the ground using a lamplighters pole.

Lamp Control

A battery operated boxed timer unit provides a pulsed supply to the gas solenoid located in the lamp head. A light sensitive cell is located in a water-tight housing fitted to the lamp head base to operate the lamp according to level of daylight; a delay is arranged to avoid car headlamp interference.