|A double header GEC streetlight in Orpington, Kent|
|Years Manufactured:||1932 - 1990s|
|Models:||usually Z plus four numbers|
The General Electric Company was a major manufacturer of street lights. They produced refractors, lanterns and columns, the latter particularly well known for their concrete designs. The company became well known first for domestic light bulbs, such as the Osram, before establishing a dedicated street lighting divison in 1932, and made frequent news installations in the 1930s.
Lanterns generally had an alphabetic code identifying the division in company (originally "F" for general lighting, later "Z" for dedicated street lighting after 1932) and a four digit identification number. Early products included the Z4001 "Watford" and Z5580 / Z5590 series, which came into production in 1961, and were popular in the 1960s. The product number generally increased over time.
The company's brackets, like other manufacturers, were originally cast iron, but they experimented with concrete in the 1950s, and found it became durable and was a mainstay of 1960s installations.
GEC stopped producing street furniture in the late 1980s. Since then, the columns have proven to be more durable than the lights, and so it is common to see an alternative lantern on an original GEC bracket or column.