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The Anglepoise lamp

Designed by the automotive engineer George Carwardine, the Anglepoise lamp is based on the ability of a new type of spring and lever mechanism invented by Carwardine in 1932 to remain in position after being moved in every conceivable direction. Efficient and energy-saving, the Anglepoise has remained in production ever since. Many inventors produce ingenious ideas because they set themselves a goal, such as improving the performance of a particular product or finding a new means of tackling a problem. They then set their sights on achieving it. Yet one of the most successful examples of British invention, the Anglepoise lamp evolved as a result of experimention around a series of engineering principles.

The Anglepoise lamp was designed by George Carwardine (1887–1947), an automotive engineer specialising in vehicle suspension systems. When his employer, the Hortsman Car Company, went bankrupt Carwardine seized the moment to explore a longstanding fascination with spring and lever mechanisms. He established a garden workshop at his home in Bath and began to work on the design that would later become his legacy. Carwardine eventually developed a lamp, which, supported and balanced by a sequence of springs, cams, levers and weights, could be constantly repositioned to focus the light in specific directions, yet remained balanced when held in position. He patented his spring design on 7 July 1932. A heavy base stabilised the lamp and the shade focused the beam without causing glare. This enabled the lamp to consume less electricity than existing models.

Having finalised his design, Carwardine decided to license it to Herbert Terry & Sons, a manufacturer based at Redditch in Worcestershire that supplied springs to industry. The company was then run by Charles Terry, the eldest son of its founder, Herbert. Intent on expanding the business, Charles was keen to diversify by applying the company’s expertise in springs to new products and so he personally signed the licensing agreement for Carwardine’s lamp.

Carwardine intended to call his lamp the Equipoise but the name was rejected by the Trade Marks Registry at the Patent Office on the grounds that 'equipoise' was an existing word, so they settled on Anglepoise. The first version of the Anglepoise lamp, the 1208, was produced by Herbert Terry & Sons in 1934 with four springs. It proved so popular that one year later the company introduced a new version, the Model 1227, with three springs and an Art Deco-inspired three-tier base that looked more domestic than the single-tier base of the 1208. Herbert Terry & Sons publicised the Anglepoise by emphasising both the precision with which its beam could be focused and its energy-saving potential. One of the key benefits of the 1227 was that it worked perfectly with an energy saving 25 watt bulb by directing the light precisely where it was needed. Advertising at the time claimed the lower wattage bulb was as efficient in the Anglepoise as a 60 watt bulb would be in another lamp. Three years later, Herbert Terry & Sons introduced a new version of the Model 1227 with a two-tier base and a wider shade that was capable of taking a 40 watt bulb. This model remained in production for over 30 years and is still widely regarded as the archetypal Anglepoise, even though the design has since been modified. The 1969 Anglepoise Model 75 sported a round base and a fluted shade, held in place by a swivel ball. The 1989 Anglepoise Apex 90 refined the design of the Model 75 by adopting a modular jointing system for easy assembly. In 1971 Herbert Terry & Sons was sold to the Associated Spring Corporation but in 1975 John Terry bought back the lighting part of the spring business to form the company Anglepoise Lighting Ltd, later abbreviated to Anglepoise.

In 2002, Simon Terry succeeded his father at Anglepoise, becoming the 5th generation family member to lead the company. One year later, in 2003, Terry commissioned the product designer Kenneth Grange (1929–) to revise the Original 1227 design into the Anglepoise Type 3, notably by adding a double skin shade to accommodate a 100 watt bulb. The following year, Grange was invited to revise the design of the Model 75, resulting in the Type 75, a lamp that still bears a distinct resemblance to the prototype designed by George Carwardine over 70 years earlier.

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George Carwardine registers the patent for a new type of spring


After searching for a use for his new spring, Carwardine uses it to produce a lamp with a focused beam

He licenses his design to Herbert Terry Ltd, which launches the Anglepoise 1209, initially for industrial use


Terry introduces a domestic version of Carwardine’s lamp, the Anglepoise 1227, with a three-tier base and 25 watt bulb


The original Model 1227 is replaced by a new version with a two tier base and 40 watt bulb. This lamp remains in production for over 30 years and becomes known as the archetypal Anglepoise


A special edition Anglepoise is developed for use in military aircraft. The lamp is entirely made of non-magnetic materials to avoid interaction with the nearby compass and friction adjusters are added to hold the arms in place during turbulence


Terry replaces the 1227 with the Anglepoise Model 75, which includes a round base and fluted shade held in place by a swivel ball


The Model 90 replaces the earlier Model 75 to meet British Standards requirements. This lamp is ahead of its time, using an internationally certified switch and lamp holder with reinforced insulation with negates the need for an earth wire


The Anglepoise Apex 90 is introduced, further refining the original design by adopting a modular jointing system for easy assembly


Introduction of the Anglepoise Type 3, the contemporary version of the original 1227, designed by Kenneth Grange with a double skin shade and 100 watt bulb


Kenneth Grange updates the Anglepoise Model 75 into the Type 75, reinterpreting the original design for the 21st Century


Anglepoise ‘Fifty’ is introduced in 2006 as a limited edition. This is a polycarbonate lamp designed by Anthony Dickens


The Type 1228 is designed by Kenneth Grange. As with the earlier Type 75, the design is developed to encompass desk, floor, wall and ceiling options


Anglepoise introduces the Type 75 Mini Collection, a scaled down alternative to the Type 75, ideally suited to smaller spaces


An ongoing collaboration with designer Paul Smith begins with the launch of the Type 75 – Paul Smith - Edition One. This designer’s playful colour-by-component approach highlights the mechanical functionality of the design and reinvents the Anglepoise for a new audience


With the trend for small space living increasing and following the success of the Type 75 Mini, Anglepoise launches the Original 1227 Mini Collection


Having earlier developed triple scale Original 1227 Giant lamp, Anglepoise launches an extended Giant collection including lamps for outdoors. An earlier collaboration with designer Margaret Howell is extended to create a 3-piece collection


From all angles

Discover a 360 view of this iconic British brand

In the Design Museum Collection

Anglepoise, model 1208/1209

Anglepoise 90 PL - table study lamp, manufactured by The Anglepoise Co.

610 x 540 x 190mm extended.

Anglepoise lamp, Trade mark 90, manufactured by Herbert Terry & Sons Ltd.

650 x 450 x 150mm extended.

Anglepoise 1227, manufactured by Herbert Terry & Sons Ltd.

420 x 450 x 150mm closed.

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