In a project led by Southport BID and supported by a £100,000 Government Acceleration Grant, the 300,000 bulbs are being installed by local firm Illumidex UK. Andrew Brown reports
The first of 300,000 new decorative light bulbs have been installed on trees along the historic Lord Street boulevard in Southport
Southport BID is leading the project to replace decorative lighting along each side of the mile-long Victorian shopping street. They aim to generate pride in the area and encourage shoppers and diners to return once the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures are eased.
Local firm Illumidex UK began removing the obsolete old lights in November last year and is aiming to complete the ambitious scheme of installing 20 miles of new lights in spring this year.
Southport BID chief executive, Rachel Fitzgerald said: “I am delighted to see the first trees on Lord Street are now lit up again. Replacing the lights along both sides of this mile-long street is a substantial project, which has been made possible by the BID and its members, the local businesses we have here in Southport town centre.
“Lord Street in Southport is one of the most beautiful and unique shopping streets in the North West. It is home to lots of superb shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and other local businesses.
“We want to encourage people in our town to think about Lord Street as a place we are all very proud of, and that is why we are investing substantial amounts of money to make it shine. We can’t wait to see local residents and visitors being able to return and enjoy shopping and enjoying a good night out here.
“I am looking forward to Lord Street encouraging lots of cosmopolitan socialising in Southport.”
Southport BID has provided funding for the scheme and is being supported by £100,000 through a Government Acceleration Grant, under Southport Town Deal.
A further £900,000 of Southport Town Deal funding is currently being spent on transforming Southport Market into a new food, drink and events hub, which is also due to open this Spring – another reason to encourage more visitors into the town centre.
Illumidex UK owners Steve and Jan Clayton are working “like clockwork” on the Lord Street lighting scheme alongside two co-workers. They began the project two months ago, painstakingly removing three and a half tonnes of obsolete lighting from branches before they were able to begin installing their new ones.
They said: “We have completed eight trees already. We are averaging four trees a night at the moment and are progressively working our way along the street. We have started at the Southport Community Fire & Ambulance Station end, just outside Farmfoods, and are moving on from there.
“Once we reach the Morrisons end of Lord Street we will start lighting up trees on the other side of the road. We did have discussions about waiting until all the lights were up before doing a big switch on, but we’re leaving them on as we go along, so people can see Lord Street gradually light up.”
The Illumidex team of four took two full weeks to unpack all the sets of lights needed for the scheme. Altogether there are 3,000 sets of lights, containing a total of 300,000 bulbs. Sefton Council contractors helped by pruning the trees along Lord Street so the new lights could be installed.
Half moon discs, each containing a number, will be attached to each of boulevard’s 80 trees, so local business owners or members of the public can easily identify or report any trees where any issues may need addressing in the months ahead.