George Carwardine (1887 - 1947) didn’t need to invent the Anglepoise® lamp to make his name; he was already a practicing engineer of some note, specialising in vehicle suspension systems. He honed his skills at the Hortsman Car Company where he rose through the ranks to become Chief Designer. Then in 1924, when Hortsmann’s got into financial difficulties Carwardine left to start his own business, which he called Cardine Accessories.
He later went back to work with Sydney Hortsmann but in 1929 the Horstman car company went bankrupt. Carwardine seized the moment – here was the opportunity he’d been waiting for to explore a longstanding fascination with spring and lever based mechanisms. He established a garden workshop at his home in Bath and began work on the design that would later become his legacy.
By 1932 Carwardine was ready to unveil his remarkable invention - a 4-spring lamp, combining unprecedented freedom of movement and perfect balance due to its patented constant spring mechanism. And soon demand for the lamp far outstripped Carwardine’s small-scale supply. So in 1934 Carwardine licensed the design to world-class spring maker, Herbert Terry & Sons, who already supplied the springs for his lamps. Not long after, the Anglepoise® name was registered and the 4-spring ‘Model 1208™’ went into volume production.
Carwardine and the designers at Terry’s went straight back to the drawing board, intent on reworking the industrial-style 4-spring design for a domestic market. In 1935 a 3-spring Anglepoise® lamp was released. This was the Original 1227™ - the same design produced to this day.
Carwardine maintained his association with Terry’s for the remainder of his life. He developed numerous variations on the original Anglepoise® design, including lamps for hospital operating theatres, and for navigator tables in military aircraft. But it’s the enduring Original 1227™ model that remains the archetypal Anglepoise® lamp, and with it, an iconic British design.
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