Fort Dunlop was for a while the largest factory in the world, at its peak producing 25,000 rubber tyres a day for its eponymous owners. In an era when Birmingham was one of the industrial powerhouses of the world, the 400 acre Dunlop plant was rivalled only by the monolithic Rover factory on the other side of the city.
This is the perennial question we face from our customers, and a very natural one to ask given that we deal in industrial and salvaged lighting and have very little to do with trains. Much to the dismay of the occasional excited enthusiast we still get turning up at the door. The name does however have railway related origins.
One of the exciting aspects of our business lies in the challenge of tracking down new lines of stock. This is now a different challenge from the early days, when we were pretty much the only people buying and selling industrial lighting in any kind of quantity. Its strange now to recall those first visits to eastern Europe, driven by our hunch that all of those defunct communist era factories must surely contain some pretty serious quantities of period industrial lighting.
It's 9am on a Thursday morning and a laden truck hot from the Czech republic awaits unloading. The Trainspotters workers start offloading and stacking the cargo of hundreds of salvaged industrial lights into ordered batches in the mill. The workshop team of Stefan, Marek and Moni then set to work dismantling into component parts and stacking into crates ready for the next stage in the journey. All the old electrics are removed and copper transformers and metal parts are recycled along with the sodium bulbs.
We're busy making the last minute arrangements for designjunction 2013, the only fair or exhibition that we have ever been tempted to partake in. Part of London Design Fair, designjunction returns to the abandoned 1960's Postal Sorting Office in Holborn, a concrete monolith of a building with the original parcel shutes and conveyor belts left intact. The fair includes a powerful line-up of renowned international brands, smaller cutting-edge labels, pop-up shops, large-scale installations, eateries and flash factories.
Trainspotters has established itself as a pioneering dealer in reclaimed industrial lighting and salvage. The company invested heavily in Eastern Europe, building up an unrivalled stockpile of communist‐era lighting. In recent years they have re-manufactured old classic designs, made to the highest UK standard. Look out for the latest re-make of the French Streetlight.
The Crows Nest, manned and kitted out by some of us Trainspotters, has been voted No.1 Secret Glastonbury spot by Time Out magazine. So if you're passing please call in and say hello to Tony or Andy, who will no doubt be delighted to serve you a selection of fine tea and cakes beneath the inviting glow of Trainspotters lighting.... http://www.timeout.com/london/music-festivals/five-secret-spots-at-glast...
Our neighbour and leading glass sculptor Colin Reid used a space in the mill to shoot some of his magnificent creations yesterday. Colin describes his unique work as follows: "If I were to identify a single thread that runs through my work it would be the influence of nature. That is the source to which I return for inspiration and fresh material for my work. My current interest is in natural materials that have been worked by craftsmens hands in the past and are eroding and reverting to nature.
As we've stripped back the damp plasterboard and 1980's bodge jobs from the interior of New Mills, a characterful beast has emerged. And who better to christen it than local lads made good Superdry, who've just shot their summer range amongst scattered clock faces and neon light fixtures. Hats off to our friend Jimeee Meigh, Creative Director, who has produced some striking images despite the cold wind whistling through... http://www.superdry.com
Work on our new mill progresses steadily, the latest development being the shotblasting of the stone walls in the Victorian warehouse space to the rear of the complex. When we moved in to the mill this space was partitioned off with damp plasterboard corridors and bodged tarpaulin roof repairs, and little of what we now see was visible. Today's shotblasting has revealed the original cotswold stone walls in all their glory, off-setting beautifully the original multi-paned Victorian windows (which we are also restoring).