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Bristol’s first moving neon sign restored

The Mauretania, Bristol’s first moving neon sign, was switched back on over the Christmas period after undergoing a complete restoration.

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The Mauretania lights up Bristol’s Park Street once more

The neon sign was originally installed in 1938 and marked the famous public house named after luxury transatlantic liner, the RMS Mauretania, in service from 1907 to 1934. Ronald Avery, who owned the building at the time, purchased fixtures and fittings from the liner in an auction and built the bar area using the parts.

The sign has sat in darkness for the last ten years as it required extensive repair work. Cabot Neon Signs was awarded the contract in September 2018 to restore the neon after being approached by the listed building’s owners.

Rob Sprackman of Cabot Neon has a deep-rooted history with the sign, as his grandfather worked on it in the 50s and 60s. “It’s the first thing you see when you look up Park Street, as a kid I always remember looking at it,” he says. “It is a bit of a Bristol landmark and there are very few things like that around the country, especially in terms of moving neon.”

It is a bit of a Bristol landmark and there are very few things like that around the country, especially in terms of moving neon

To understand how the sign lit up, Cabot Neon looked through old footage of news reels and scoured the internet for photographs to find out which parts were static and which parts ‘moved.’ Once the firm worked it out, they sent the requirements to a company in France that created a flasher unit, specially designed to give power to the right circuits at the right time.

It took two and a half days to take down the original sign, four weeks to manufacture the glass, and four days with four people to reinstall it.

Sprackman adds: “We were really pleased with it. It was a bit of an unknown project. Because over the years the sign had been patch repaired and parts had been taken out and put in and the wiring was a bit of a mess, we said to the client we’d do the project if we could do a proper job and take it all down and start again.”

Sprackman’s uncle, Pete Sprackman, has been bending glass since 1985 and creates all the glass pieces for Cabot Neon’s projects, including the 59 pieces used in the Mauretania’s new sign. 

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