Here at Hi-Way Services, we’ve had the pleasure of being acquainted with collector and road furniture enthusiast Hayden for many years. Back in the early 2010s, we noticed that we had been getting unusually small orders for one or two road studs, so we decided to find out more about who had been making them. This was when we first met a vibrant, 9-year-old boy called Hayden.
We were astonished to discover this enterprising young man had been fascinated by how our roads work since he was four years old, and had set about building a miniature motorway in his garden, complete with our studs and pothole repair kits. Knowing how passionate Hayden was about the roads, we invited him to Lydden Hill Race Circuit to watch the machinery spray the markings and ride in a cab around the track.
We kept in touch with Hayden over the years, and after sending him a surprise on Christmas day, he was kind enough to get in touch with an update on what he’s up to now. Perhaps the most exciting development is that Hayden’s life-long interest has led to a career in the road industry, as a welder with a lighting column manufacturer, and we sent him a few questions to find out more, which he has generously taken the time to answer.
Hayden’s Road Furniture Collection at a Glance
- Hayden has been collecting road furniture since the age of five.
- He still has all of his collection, which includes around 50 cat’s eyes and 150 reflective road studs, featuring 3M and Stimsonite varieties.
- His collection also includes motorway markers and reflective posts.
- Hayden’s main interest since 2017 has been streetlighting, and he now owns over 70 streetlights.
Our Questions to Hayden
How long have you been collecting road furniture?
My first ever piece of road furniture was a road cats eye stud, to be more specific a “𝘓𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘥𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘔𝘒 𝟪𝘈 𝘞𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦/𝘞𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘥 𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘴 𝘦𝘺𝘦” which was acquired in around 2008 to 2009. I found it lying at the side of the road between Bexhill and Eastbourne on the A259, and I would have been about 5 years old.
What sparked your interest in road furniture?
From the early age of 4 I was fascinated to know what lit up in the road between the road markings and was curious as to what the object in the road was called, the shape of it and how big it was.
After acquiring my first road stud when I was about 5 my interest took me into the other types of road studs available, such as road reflective studs made by 3M and Stimsonite. My love for the Holophane tempered glass road studs grew as well, and as a young boy I loved seeing these in the road – I used to (and still do) refer to them as road domes due to their glass dome appearance, as they don’t sit flush with the tarmac surface and have a dome top.
From this beginning, I started to move onto motorway marker posts. The company Blakedales oddly received a call from Santa one Christmas in 2014 requesting some motorway marker posts and a reflective bollard!
In 2017 I moved to Derbyshire to start what would be a new life for me with a brighter future, with a garage where I had space to store all my collection. The hobby and collection moved onto streetlighting, as I love the old orange streetlights (I suppose this sense since my favourite colour is orange!), and they had begun to be replaced by LED bulbs by that point.
I was fascinated by how this new technology was about to replace all the streetlights across the UK, and in August 2017 my first streetlight was collected. Since I first started, over 70 streetlight fixtures, 200 road studs and a handful of other pieces have been acquired. Very recently I even collected old road signs from before 1963, known as pre-Worboys! (*This refers to signs installed before the Worboys report of 1964) I wonder what’s next!
What’s the oldest piece you own?
This would have to be a road sign made before WW2, it’s a cast iron pre-Worboys reflective beaded Warning triangle. It was made no later than 1938 and, guessing from its design, it’s around 85 years old and therefore extremely rare too due to solid glass beads being used instead of glass fruit gum reflectors. I would imagine that there are no more than 10 of these that exist today, and this one is in very good condition with no damage!
Are there any stories behind items that you find particularly interesting?
Absolutely, and so many! However, I will only mention one as this interview could go on until next year. Back on the 16th of February 2021, I managed to save a Philips MA50 GO from column number 10376. It was, and still is, one of the largest lanterns rescued at the time of writing.
Since the entire column was being replaced I spoke to the contractors and asked them if I could have the outreach bracket with the lantern. This certain bracket is actually a sleeve, used in the 1990s to slide over existing concrete columns when the original concrete arm decides to decay – the original concrete bracket is removed and a new galvanised steel sleeve is slid over the remaining section.
Of course, to me, it was of high interest to save this along with the original lantern that it came with. I rang up my Dad if he could come to pick me up with all the lanterns I was kindly given by the contractors, when he came we got all the lanterns in the car. There was only one issue – the steel galvanised sleeve wouldn’t fit in the car, owing to its size. As a 4ft by 4ft so-called “dog arm”, it would not go in!
Bearing in mind I had just gone out for a 12-mile run and stumbled across this whole scene while I was out, I was rather exhausted after 6 miles and had no food and energy to carry it home. The weather was coming in and I had to make a decision, and fast. Determined, I accepted my fate and decided to take this sleeve home on foot.
The first two miles nearly took me an hour and I had to stop roughly every 200 yards to recalibrate my energy, and the like due to its weight! I repeated this for approximately 3 miles, the terrain was not flat either and I had to walk with this on a main road all the way home. I felt rather out of place, the passing onlookers must have wondered what on earth I was doing!
I considered calling it a day and dumping it in a hedge and coming back another day and walking with it another mile or two, but in the end I decided to carry on anyway. Thankfully I happened to see light at the end of the tunnel and suddenly saw a car I recognised! Or rather someone, it was my Mum, she obviously heard what had happened and came to bring me some snacks and a drink!
By that time it had been nearly 3 hours. I was completely shaky and had little to no energy at all, but luckily my mum told me that my Dad had shared the story with one of my neighbours. They are a landscape gardener with a truck, and they came and rescued the bracket and drove it home the remaining 3 miles. My mum drove the very worn-out me home!
Just as we got home and inside the house, rumble rumble, a thunderstorm and heavy rain arrived! Gosh, things could have turned out very differently that day. I imagine that you’d like to see this bracket and lantern now after that eventful story – here’s the entire setup seen with myself behind it.
If you could only keep one item, what would you keep and why?
Ooh this question is making me think. I know that I wondered before if the worst happened and the house caught fire, what would I rescue as I wouldn’t have time to get everything. If it had to be just one thing, I’d have to pick my “Thorn Alpha 4”, a street light fitting which stood outside my house for at least 20 years! When I moved in 2017 to Derbyshire I remember how pleased I was that one was to stand outside my house. Fortunately when the lantern was replaced in March 2021 and Mum was here and saved it for me, it would have been scrapped otherwise! I was at college at the time.
You now work as a welder for a lighting column manufacturer, what’s the best thing about this job?
I`m glad you asked this, the most enjoyable moments come from looking at the finished products after they’re produced – I find that really satisfying. I also think the welding in combination with a manipulator is just such a good idea, it really does work well and is enjoyable to use, whoever thought of that was a genius!
Is there anything missing in your collection that you would love to get your hands on?
Oh yes absolutely! There are two most wanted items I’ve never been able to get. The first is the “amber/red 1990s reflective stud” made by Stimsonite. Its unique appearance is like nothing else I’ve seen, though with road surfaces being changed a lot of the time it’s becoming rarer by the minute -I do know a few locations though where these exist still!
The other is the “Philips MA60” streetlight, it’s my favourite of all streetlights and with a massive amount of light output at 32,000 lumens, it really is an impressive fixture, many still exist and I’m certain one day I will obtain one.
A huge thanks from the Hi-Way Services team to Hayden – we wish him all the best in his career and many more happy times building his collection!