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Holophane celebrates its 120th birthday

To celebrate its landmark year, Holophane staff took part in a special charity walk in the Cotswolds

One of the world’s most venerable lighting brands turns 120 years old this month. Holophane, a pioneer of prismatic optics, is in an elite club of manufacturers with a pedigree stretching back over a century. To help celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of 12 things you may not know about the brand – one for every decade the company has been in existence. 


On 19 February 1896, Holophane is born. Queen Victoria is still on the throne, and gas lighting dominates the streets and homes. The incandescent lamp has just been developed and is the big new technology.


Holophane were the first company to give practical expression to the principles of the prism as the ultimate means of controlling light. To this day the principle is still used in conjunction with the latest LED technology.


Holophane were involved in the war effort of the First World War, during which time Holophane’s state of the art research facilities were used by the War Office.


Holophane’s expertise in lighting lead to the company being entrusted with the lighting of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1923.

Powerful Holophane luminaires were chosen for the first exterior illumination of London’s iconic Battersea Power Station


In the 1930s Holophane was commissioned to design and install the lighting of the enormous Battersea Power Station. 


Holophane is commissioned to support the war effort of the Second World War, to design and manufacture specific luminaires such as the ‘ARP’ (Air Raid Precaution) and fluorescent wall fittings for the illumination of wall maps in anti-air raid operations rooms, among many others. 

Holophane’s premises were damaged by bombs more than once during these times, but operations still continued.


Holophane proudly provided the lighting for the coronations of King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 coronations at Westminster Abbey. Holophane’s Dr. English, Holophane’s research and development director at the time, was awarded the Queen’s Coronation Medal in recognition of his work on the scheme.


In 1967, Holophane outgrew its previous premises and moved to a purpose-built factory and office on Bond Avenue in Milton Keynes, which has since been expanded and is now the European headquarters.

Holophane US was also commissioned to relight the exterior floodlighting of the Empire State building and their Metal Optics company supplied all of the internal office lighting.

In 1953, Holophane provided the lighting at Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II .


In 1973, in recognition of Holophane’s excellence in exporting overseas, the company was renamed Holophane Europe.


During the 1980s, Holophane secured the largest-ever single lighting order in the UK of 65,000 fittings, covering 186 miles of tunnels in the London Underground. Holophane has provided some 80 years of service to the London Underground.


In 1999, Holophane became a part of the Acuity Brands Group which is the largest luminaire manufacturer in the world, with net sales of over $2.6 billion. The group employs 7,000 associates.

2000 – present day

Holophane Europe’s laboratory, located at the Milton Keynes premises and working to ISO 17025 quality systems and ISO 9001 certification, is home of the largest multi-cell goniophotometer in the UK.

It boasts an impressive 8 m arc, and possibly the largest photometer of this type in Europe.

The addition of a 4-metre diameter integrating sphere means Holophane’s photometric test equipment supplemented by EMC, UMSUG, thermal and safety compliance testing delivers one of the leading test facilities by any luminaire manufacturer.

Holophane’s expertise in developing state-of-the-art luminaires still stands strong to this day.

Since 2014, Holophane has developed three international award winning products in Haloprism, V-Max and HMAO.