Thorn lights up the Bristol skyline
Perched high above the city of Bristol, the Wills Memorial Tower – the centrepiece building of the University of Bristol – simply faded into darkness each night. Now, a new floodlighting scheme, made possible thanks to a £750,000 restoration project to return the tower to its original colour, has been supplied by Thorn.
The scheme illuminates the 68-metre-high gothic style tower using primarily low wattage white metal halide lamps to enhance the sandy Bath and Clipsham stone. The use of eight 150W Contrast C floodlights cast a glancing light across the face of the tower, the lower part of which is lit by four 70W ground recessed Mica B floods mounted close to the base. These are augmented by 30 narrow beam 150W Sunspot units to highlight the upper levels at a shallow angle to emphasise detail and shadow. Within the octagonal belfry 70W high pressure sodium Areafloods create a subdued golden glow providing a contrast with the metal halide used elsewhere.
The University has worked closely with Planning and Conservation Officers from Bristol City Council and with English Heritage to ensure that the scheme is environmentally friendly as well as in keeping with the building and its surroundings. The floodlights are energy-efficient, employ attachments to tailor the beam distributions and are switched on at dusk and off at midnight. Additionally, far less light is needed on a clean stone building than on one which is encrusted with the grime of centuries. The total load is under 6kW.
Harry Patch, a 109-year-old veteran of the Great War and a member of the workforce which constructed the tower in the 1920s, switched on the new floodlights at a special ceremony last month.
Dave Skelhorne, the University’s Contract Supervisor, said: “Switching on the lights was the final piece in the jigsaw of repair, renovation and illumination of the tower – a mammoth project which has taken two years to complete. The tower looks truly magnificent and will now be an even more impressive sight on the city’s skyline.”
Electrical work at the tower was carried out by AMP Electrical Ltd of Bristol.