Battle to save Highgate’s last Victorian cast-iron lampposts

Historic cast-iron lampposts are essential to the “integrity of Highgate” and should be restored rather than scrapped, a Haringey councillor has demanded.

Liberal Democrat councillor Rachel Allison, who represents Highgate, is leading a campaign calling for Haringey Council to protect Victorian and Edwardian lampposts which are falling into disrepair.

Nearly 300 cast-iron lampposts have been removed in Haringey over the last four years and only five restored, all of which sit in Hornsey Churchyard, Hornsey.

Cllr Allison said: “It is very important the lampposts are in keeping with the integrity of the area and the whole of Highgate. When you have old streets, the street furniture is very important.

“The old lampposts look so much nicer than the modern ones that residents refer to as motorway lighting.

“The cast-iron lampposts are rather beautiful and are more aesthetically pleasing than the neon streets lights you get on the motorway as they have a gentler glow.”

The saga is a tale of two halves.

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In South Grove and beyond, elegant black lampposts stand proudly in the parts of Highgate that fall within the borough of Camden. Across Camden nearly 900 lampposts have been restored to their former glory, costing between £700 and £800 per column.

But in Haringey, 295 lampposts have been scrapped and replaced by more modern street lighting over the last four years.

Haringey Council said the cast-iron lights were not salvageable and had to be removed, except for the five repaired in the churchyard.

But Cllr Allison and the Haringey Lib Dems have accused the council of not making enough effort to protect the borough’s heritage when Camden has successfully refurbished and reused its historic lampposts.

The Lib Dems also believe it is more cost-effective to restore old lampposts than replace them with modern versions.

Michael Hammerson, of the Highgate Society’s environment committee, agreed with Cllr Allison that lampposts should be in keeping with the conversation area.

“We would like some input into the style of lamps,” he said. “Modern lights don’t necessarily have to look out of place. But ideally the old ones should be restored.”

A Haringey Council spokesman said: “We are committed to preserving the borough’s heritage wherever possible, which is why we’ve reused some of these iron lampposts in the churchyard.

“Unfortunately, many of these very old lampposts were badly damaged by rust and tree roots and were too corroded to recycle for use elsewhere.

“We’re currently speaking to contractors, including those who have worked in Camden, to see what options are available for future heritage work.”