LAST JANUARY Roger Flude opened a nine workforce factory to manufacture his two-section, 5mm thick steel sleeve which clamps around the lamp post column base. The simple device forms a cheap, attractive and effective repair for the rusting structure.
Last Monday, following the product's accidental media 'launch' - triggered by casual talk of combating dog pee - Flude fielded a dozen calls from the media and, more importantly, several from interested local authorities. More than 240 columns have already been strengthened and he expects orders for 6,000 more.
'The future looks healthy now, but the year spent persuading lighting engineers to look at and accept my idea was a major struggle,' he said. 'One senior county surveyor just laughed and said it was impractical.'
What Flude has produced is nothing remarkable. A range of less sophisticated more piecemeal sleeves already exist. But he has systemised his idea to mass produce a protection system that can still be customised for individual column designs.
The clever bits are patented: hidden self-locking clasps to join the sleeve's two halves leaving a smooth finish; and a small excavating tool to dig a narrow trench around the column base to bury the sleeve end below ground level.