Restoration of a Historical Lamp-post

This year, the City Gallery Prague completed the restoration of the last of the three historical lamp-posts in Prague. Like the two previous lamp-posts on Hradčanské and Loretánské Squares, this smallest four-arm lamp-post from Dražického Square was also connected to gas, which will increase the number of lanterns with gas lighting and contribute to creating a mysterious atmosphere in the streets of the Lesser Town and Old Town.

Ceremonious lighting of the four-arm lamp-post on 2 December at 18.00

These lamp-posts used for public lighting originated in the years 1867-1868 and they were the collective work of sculptor Eduard Veselý and architect Aleš Linsbauer who received the order to make them from a gas company. All of the cast-iron parts were casted in Komárovské Ironworks of Duke Vilém Hanavský near the city of Beroun.

Originally the lanterns were fitted with gas butterfly burners, which were later replaced with mantels. In Prague, at its peak period in 1882, there were 16 eight-arm lamp-posts, 11 four-arm, 55 three-arm and 557 single lamp-posts located in various important places. By 1985 all lamp-posts and lanterns were abolished and taken to a scrapyard. The only lamp-posts kept were two eight-arm lamp-posts at Hradčany and one four-arm lamp-post at Dražického Square but they were electrified.

All three preserved lamp-posts, which are an excellent example of handicraft and technical heritage from the second half of the 19thcentury, are administered by the City Gallery Prague. The first out of the lamp-posts mentioned stands at Hradčanské Square. This eight-arm lamp-post was completely restored and transferred to gas lighting by the City Gallery Prague in 2006. The second, also an eight-arm lamp-post at Loretánské Square went through the same restoration and gasification process during 2011 and 2012.

The lamp-post at Dražického Square with four lanterns is the smallest one out of the preserved monuments. It is fixed on a cylindrical granite pedestal with a round profiled cornice, the front part of which is decorated with the historical coat of arms of the city of Prague. The actual cast-iron base is decorated with a quartet of female figures in Antique style gowns, executed in high relief. The backs of the figures are tied to a fluted column with a Corinthian capital, on the top of which there are four prolate volutes with female heads topped off with buds. The lanterns are fixed on four arms supported by richly ornamented pantiles. There is a quartet of dragons placed on the upper edge of these arms. Chains lead from the tops of the lanterns to the tip of the column.

Due to the long-term exposure of the lamp-post to atmospheric conditions, the surface of the cast iron was strongly disrupted by corrosion, the relief was flattened out and some of its parts damaged. The state of the lamp-post, as well as its stone pedestal was no longer sustainable. The restoration works required a complete dismantling of the lamp-post, which took place on 16 October 2013. The one-year long restoration works of the cast iron body comprised of the initial restoration survey, professional treatment of individual components, completion of missing components according to the analogical parts of the previous lamp-posts, welding up and ciselure of the cast iron cracked parts, adjustment and reinforcement of the constructional components and subsequent restoration of the finishing and protective layer. The stone pedestal was restored on the spot and it was not necessary to take it apart. The surface of the stone base was thoroughly cleaned, chipped off parts were filled in and retouched, and in conclusion it was conserved against adverse atmospheric conditions present in the centre of Prague. During the assembly of the restored lamp-post the gas distribution system was installed in the centre of the body, and then in the individual arms all the way to the actual lanterns. New, modern technology of gas lighting, including mantles, was installed in these lanterns. The gas lighting will be newly turned on by remote control from the dispatching of the public lighting operator. The lanterns are also equipped with beams with loops; therefore it is possible to operate them manually using a lamplighting pole as used to be done in the past.

The restoration of the cast iron body was done by experienced restorers Petr Douda and Ivan Houska of Pasířství Houska & Douda, who already had rich experience with the restoration of the previous lamp-posts. The stone pedestal was restored by the sculptor and restorer Petr Vitvar. The gas supply was secured by Pražská plynárenská Distribuce, a. s., (Prague Gas Distribution Company) at their expense, company ELTODO-CITELUM s. r. o. participated on the production and technology of the burners, and the company ELTODO a. s. completed the connection to the gas, as well as electricity distribution systems.