The Forum was inaugurated on the 13th June 2001 at the old offices of the Institution of Lighting Engineers (ILE), now the Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP), in Rugby, Warwickshire. Initially the name adopted was the Lighting Column Manufacturing Technical Forum but at the second meeting on the 5th September 2001, it was decided to drop the reference to 'manufacturing'so as to broaden the Forum's activities to all aspects of the column industry. As a result the first formal meeting of the Lighting Column Technical Forum (LCTF) was held on the 17th January 2002, and the new logo, to be in sympathy with that of the ILE, was adopted on the 17th July 2003.
Of course, the Forum was not a completely new organisation but the rebirth of a much older association which had served the industry well for many years but needed to change; the Lighting Column Manufacturers Association (LCMA). The LCMA was formed following discussions in 1975, with the first meeting being held on 7th January 1976 at Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and membership was restricted to UK column manufacturers. For many years the LCMA had solely been involved in technical matters and it was felt that a wider membership and expertise base would provide a better service to the industry.
However, much good work was carried out by the LCMA in consultation with many other bodies, including the Highways Agency, to provide a sound basis for the industry today. It was very active in the drafting of BS 5649 and EN 40 'Lighting Columns'in the BSI Technical Committee B/509/50 and the parallel European Technical Committee CEN/TC 50. It provided test samples and practical expertise for the research into the effects of fatigue carried out by the Welding Institute (TWI) for the Highways Agency (HA) and also for the investigation on the wind response of lighting columns, particularly those on embankments, carried out by the Silsoe Research Institute, also working for the Highways Agency.
Similar involvement occurred on the investigation into the design rules for flange plates for columns for the European standard and also for the HA's specific requirements, which led to the requirements in BD 26/** in the HA's Specification for Highway Works. It is still felt that some of these requirements need further amendment which the LCTF is ready to take forward at the earliest possible date.
Possibly the largest project that the LCMA initiated that still affects the industry today was the adoption of quality assurance requirements for its members operated initially by only BSI Quality Assurance and Lloyds Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), which has developed into the current system described under 'Quality Assurance' -Link-.
All the technical work started by the LCMA, and many more new projects, will now be taken forward by the Forum with the additional strength of a much wider knowledge base from its increasing number of members in associated activities.
The Forum has every intention of remaining the first point of contact for all matters affecting columns and recognises the need to change as the requirements of the industry reflect changes in our country's infrastructure.