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Reclaimed Lighting: The Process

Each reclaimed vintage light in our warehouse has a story to tell. Or, more accurately, two stories: its original use in the mid-20th century, and the way it was found, salvaged and restored.

How we find lights, and where

At Skinflint, we’re always searching for disused lighting with a classic, industrial quality. Often, we find lights on sourcing trips to former Eastern Bloc countries, but we also keep a watch for redevelopments and demolitions closer to home. Gaining access to the former Pirelli warehouse or Cockenzie Power Station, for example, meant we could salvage dozens of vintage lights that might otherwise have been lost.

Meanwhile, many of our maritime bulkhead lights are reclaimed from vast shipbreakers’ yards on the shores of the Arabian Sea.  

Vintage lighting in a derelict space

Restoration, piece by piece

With the reclaimed lights safely in our UK warehouse, the slow process of restoration begins. We gently disassemble each light fitting into its individual parts, letting us spot any flaws and plan how best to bring it up to modern electrical standards.

Then our local experts patiently restore each component by hand. Typically, this might mean:

  • soda-blasting – an environmentally friendly way to remove old paint
  • polishing – to restore and replenish a fittings surface
  • lacquering – to protect the light’s surfaces from further deterioration
  • rewiring – so the light works perfectly, every time

Finally, we reassemble the light with brand new electrical components and list it here – along with as much information as we can provide on its origins and history.

(If you’d like to see how our reclaimed lights look when they’re taken apart, you might enjoy our Instagram account.)

Vintage light polishing in the workshop

Vintage lighting, for modern use

To us, reclaiming a vintage light means keeping the essence of the original light fitting intact, but that you can rely on it to work perfectly, and safely, every day. So we restore and use as many of the original components, except the bulb holders, wiring and suspension chains, as we can – and we often preserve the visible signs of age that hint at the light’s first story: where, when and how it was originally made and used.

Its next story is up to you.