The adage about Central Milton Keynes is that ‘any colour is fine, as long as it’s black’. All CMK street furniture is black, from the street lighting through to benches, signage and the porte-cochere crossings. Street lighting on the main Boulevards and Gates consists of circular black columns that curve gently at the top, with a lower height variant on most roads and a taller version on Grafton Gate and roads around the station. Double variants were seen at Station Square and the old bus station. Away from the primary roads, side streets and footpaths use black circular columns with top-mounted globe lanterns.
The original Boulevard and Gate columns were fitted with AEG Stradasole lanterns, a very unusual design which combined with the curved columns used gave the overall street lighting a very continental European look. These have stood the test of time very well; originally installed in the late 1970s, many remain in operation today.
Many of the original column-top globe lanterns, particularly around the east end of the city centre, were replaced with the Holophane Grosvenor from the mid 2000s. The Grosvenors are fitted with a black “hat” blocking out half the light from the lantern shining upwards to help reduce the upward spillage of light during the night.
As with grid roads and estates, stainless steel columns started to replace the original black columns in 2006, both with curved columns on main roads and column-top installations elsewhere. Although policy has now reverted to black columns with increasing recognition of CMK’s heritage significance, many stainless steel columns remain around the Hub, parts of Campbell Park south and other newer areas.
Between 2014 to 2015 around 400 to 500 Boulevards and Gate columns and lanterns were changed due to corrosion damage. Black columns were used, sometimes replacing the stainless steel installations from only a few years before. A special variant of the Holophane City Max has been used to replace some column-top globes recently, designed to mimic the globe’s circular appearance, at least from certain angles.