Anglepoise, under the spotlight

This iconic British design has illuminated the world since the 1930s.

Product name
Anglepoise® Original 1227
George Carwadine
Year made
- Gloss paint or bright chrome plated finish
- Aluminium shade
- Chrome plated fittings
- Cast Iron base with steel cover
- Aluminium arms
- Anglepoise® constant tension spring technology

Car suspension designer George Carwardine designed the Anglepoise lamp in 1931 and his design has remained largely unchanged for over 80 years.

The use of springs in the design meant that the Anglepoise can be repositioned easily without needing to be clamped into position. This made the lamps perfect for tasks where the light source would have to be constantly readjusted as the person using it needed to change their view of the task at hand. They were soon being used by surgeons in hospital operating theatres and by navigators in the turbulent environment of World War II military aircraft.

In 1986, wreckage from a World War II bomber plane was found in Loch Ness, Scotland and with it an Anglepoise lamp. Surprisingly, even after the crash landing and over forty years under water the lamp still worked!

What do you see?
How is it made?
What is it made of?
How does it work?
How was it invented?

An Iconic British Design

The Anglepoise lamp is one of the most recognisable designs of the 20th century. The unique '4 spring' design has been kept the same since it was invented in the 1930s.

Form and Function

You can tell exactly how an Anglepoise lamp works because the design doesn't try to cover up the springs and mechanisms used to help the lamp move. The way the lamp works informs how it looks. This style idea is still popular today.


Designed in the UK

All of the Anglepoise lamps we see are designed in the UK! The designs are then taken and created in carefully selected factories in China, though the giant lamps and larger collections are made by hand in Portsmouth.

Constant Spring Mechanism

The most important part of an Anglepoise lamp are it's springs! The springs allow the lamp to move freely while still being able to hold a specific position. When George Carwardine found that he couldn't make the springs quickly enough to supply the demand, he asked the spring makers 'Herbert Terry and sons' to help. They worked together for the rest of his life. There are some members of the Terry family working with Anglepoise today


Cast Iron Base

The base of the lamp is made of heavy cast iron, which means it will stay in place if you wanted to adjust the light.


The lampshade and the arms are made of aluminium, a lightweight and strong material that doesn't rust.

Finishing Touches

The brass fixtures are added, as well as completing the electronics with a twisted woven fabric cable. The lamp is then finished off with a glossy coat of paint.

Constant Tension Spring Technology

The revolutionary part of an Anglepoise lamp all comes down to how the springs work. As we move the joints of the lamp the springs activate and balance it, allowing it to hold its shape.


George's Marvellous Invention

It's amazing to think that one of the most successful designs in British history was actually created by accident! George Carwardine worked as an engineer specialising in car suspension systems. He loved to play with springs and mechanisms, and ended up creating the four spring mechanism that can be found on all of the older Anglepoise models.

A Well Adopted Design

The Anglepoise soon became a great hit with workmen and industry workers as its design was really useful for focusing light on a smaller area. It became easier to see fiddlier details as well as the small-print details on paperwork. The usefulness of the product became obvious, and soon everyone wanted them in their offices and houses.

Browse the Anglepoise range in the Museum's online shop.

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