Posted on: 31 Aug 2019. Category:
One of our best selling and certainly most talked about brands is Fraser Besant Lighting which are handmade in Bristol. This sister company of ours was started in 2015 with a view to recreating British Quality Workmanship. Crating Light Bulbs, Light fittings and wiring accessories, it has now branched out to undertake a lot of bespoke lighting projects. All of the Fraser Besant Lighting range is handmade in the UK and finished at our Bristol Workshop on the famous Gloucester Road. Here is Fraser's story...
"My father was an electrician by trade and in 1974 he opened up his own electrical wholesalers, Ablectrics, on the famous Gloucester Road in Bristol. I came along in 1985 and grew up either at school, at home or in the shop with my Dad. Aged 14 I started working in the shop as a Saturday assistant. I loved the atmosphere in the shop and was fascinated by the builders and tradesman who came in. I loved seeing new homes being built and helping customers with their enquiries. At 23 I began working full time in the shop and eventually took it over 3 years later. When my Dad retired, we stopped running the electrical contracting side of the business. I wanted to concentrate on building up the wholesale business and I had further ideas to develop a new lighting showroom in the shop. This took several years of careful planning and was a big turning point for our family business. Alongside selling lighting I also began learning the art of lighting design. I travelled to all the major lighting shows and filled my time watching and learning from the industry leaders. I visited countless high-end homes, hotels and venues to see designs in place and work out how the lighting was used. Offering a design and supply service seemed very popular with our customers. The business took off and before long I was working on Grand designs projects, in big named hotels and I even offered a design brief to Marco Pierre when he wanted to bring a restaurant franchise out in 2013.
As the lighting showroom continued to grow and my design skills improved along came the shabby chic vintage look. This originated through the trendy coffee shops and bars. I was being asked more and more to source genuine vintage lights and involve them in my lighting designs. When you are buying 50/100-year-old lighting it often needs rewiring and restoring to make it safe for current UK regulations. This is when my workshop opened. I employed a modest team of skilled people including an ex theatre lighting technician to undertake the specialist work. It was by chance one day I had 23 vintage factory lights being collected by one of my clients and a customer in the showroom asked if he could buy something similar for his home. I was able to find some more and called him back to let him know the good news. I then thought about displaying some of these genuine vintage lights in the showroom. They went like hot cakes. We quickly gained a great reputation for our range and the meticulous workmanship of the restored pieces. I specialized mainly in old theatre stage lights and film set tripod lights. Some examples are shown below. I still restore and sell these through my Bristol showroom and I have some for sale online.
The majority of the vintage lights I had been restoring over the past 2 years were British designed and made, they were 50/100 years old and still working. I too wanted to make lights that would still be working in 50 years’ time. I had the workshop and the team behind me. I had lots of exiting design ideas and lights I wanted to make. So, this is when I started my journey into manufacturing and I created Fraser Besant Lighting Ltd. The British are a proud bunch and somewhere along the way I feel we lost our way making and supplying goods. Competing with cheaper imports and steep rises in the cost of living have only gone to make things harder for us. But being British one does not shy away from a challenge. I was determined to make my lighting not only in the UK but right here in Bristol where I was born and raised. The company has been making lights since 2015 and is growing every year. I sell online and through my showroom. I have many more designs and ideas in the pipeline and I hope you all love what I have created."
Fraser Besant Lighting specialises in metalwork and is known for its industrial and vintage designs including utilizing conduit to make unique light fittings, below our staff have selected some of their favourites, almost all of these are available to view in our Bristol Showroom:
Verdigris Finish - "Of all the fantastic creations my favourite is the Verdigris finish, particularly in the 380mm shade. This finish is fantastic for rustic areas such as barn conversions or farmhouse renovations. To see the process from raw copper to the equivalent aging of 100years in a little under a week is incredible. I love how no two are ever the same with the smallest changes in humidity or temperature creating vastly different colours and consistencies. I think this is the finish that highlights the care and workmanship that goes into Fraser Besant Lighting."
The Cube - "The completely customisable cube light creates a stir in any location despite it's minimalist appearance every aspect of it can be changed to reflect your personality. The size, colour, number of lights, type of fable, type of lamp-holder, lamp and ceiling rose can all be customised to create a truly unique fitting. available as standard in three sizes (300mm, 600mm, 1000mm) I believe the 600mm is the perfect size for 6 to 8 varying lamps. Made in Bristol and wired in our Gloucester Road workshop we advise a lead time of 4-6weeks for this fitting."