| When the ten-year-old lighting ban is lifted on Saturday, it will not mean that Rushden will suddenly become a town of flashing signs, brilliantly illuminated windows and vividly bright streets. Anyone who is expecting a radical change is in for a big disappointment.
Bombs, high winds and lack of attention have put many signs completely out of action. Not many shopkeepers are planning to close their shops at six and then return to put on the lights at the permitted hour.
There are some signs intact, however, and some shop window lights are controlled by automatic switches. Moreover, several shopkeepers and electricians are busy installing new bulbs, checking wiring and insulation, and polishing glass.
One electrical engineer has contracts with about 70 shops in the area, most of them for the replacement of ordinary lighting by fluorescent lighting. A representative of another firm said that so far few enquiries had been made for major installations, but it was believed that consumers were waiting to see whether the year’s Budget affected purchase tax on fittings. Another electrical dealer said that he was waiting for the arrival of the new high voltage neon equipment before making plans.
“These fittings are very attractive,” he said “and can be used for the interior or window of shops. They can be used for colour blending, as we call it.”
Rushden’s biggest sign, the words “Shop at the Co-op” in three-foot high letters that could once be seen for miles, is completely out of action. The neon tubes are cracked and broken, gas has escaped and the red paint has peeled off the background. The sign uses 11,000 volts, and though it is to be repaired, it is doubtful if it will be in working order for some time.
A small neon over the Co-operative provision department is in better condition, as the paintwork has already been dealt with and the glass did not catch the blast of the bombs which fell in Alfred Street and shattered much of the glass in the large sign.
Workmen have been attending to the illuminated letters “Rose’s Fashion Centre,” and it is hoped that this sign will be in working order for Saturday. New bulbs have been placed in the large square-faced clock above the shop of a High Street optician.
Other signs including the word “Café” in front of the Waverley Hotel, will also be switched on, though in some cases shopkeepers who overhauled them at the end of the war have found that they need attention again.