London firm lights up historic Scots houses

A SPECIALIST lighting company has broken into the Scottish market with work on a range of historic buildings as it targets a return to pre-pandemic levels of growth.

TM Lighting specialises in providing solutions for art collections, working with galleries, museums and historic houses across the UK.

In recent months, the London-based company has completed projects at four notable historic properties in Scotland: Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, Hopetoun Castle and Barnbougle Castle near Edinburgh, and Floors Castle in Roxburghshire.

Andrew Molyneux, who co-founded the company with Harry Triggs in 2012, said “word of mouth” had proved to be a “powerful” tool in the world of historic properties as TM Lighting has secured the work north of the Border.

Mr Molyneux told The Herald: “Once you have done a good job for somebody, word spreads pretty quickly. And we aren’t just about supplying some lights – we try to give an end-to-end service and we are market leaders in what we do, and arguably globally.

“It is very organic. The houses up there and the castles up there [in Scotland] are just magnificent. [There] is very different architecture to here. Every house is unique and presents different challenges – I think that’s a really exciting thing about the job.”

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He added: “First and foremost, we are specialists in lighting art. We manufacture a range of products. We identified a niche in the market for art lighting, and we design a range of products purely for the viewing experience.”

Mr Molyneux noted that protecting the art that the firm’s products light is a key consideration of its work. It exclusively uses LED lighting, which minimises the damage to the art and is also energy saving. He explained that ultraviolet light – largely from the sun – is typically responsible for 40 per cent of damage to art; 25% is caused by heat or infrared radiation, and 25% is caused by the amount of physical light the art is exposed to. LED lighting also greatly reduces how frequently bulbs have to be changed, which ultimately leads to a major reduction on maintenance work – a boon at old buildings with tall ceilings and staircases.

Mr Molyneux said: “We have a light source that doesn’t emit UV, doesn’t emit infrared [radiation], and doesn’t throw heat out. The last thing is we just need to be able to control the light level on the artworks. When we are lighting artworks in historic houses with picture-lights we make sure that each artwork can be dimmed to a precise level for conservation reasons, but also to be able to balance the light in the place.”

Asked if the climate change agenda was becoming more of a priority for clients, he said: “Everyone has to do their part. If everyone can make a little bit of change it can make a massive change. Obviously, when you have a large house, your energy consumption is much larger than Joe Public’s, therefore the responsibility is very much on you to do your part, so to speak. I think there are an awful lot of savings to be made.”

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Mr Molyneux said the company is currently recruiting for new posts after managing to retain its team during the pandemic. It employs around 20 people, and utilises sub-contractors.

He acknowledged that the pandemic had hit many of the kind of properties it works with hard, especially those that rely on visits from members of the public. Some had used the time afforded by lockdowns to make changes, “but I think a lot of them were probably more planning than implementing, because of income [reasons].”

However, with the easing of restrictions, “we are seeing an awful lot of work going ahead”.

Asked if the company has been affected by global supply chain disruptions, Mr Molyneux said all TM Lighting’s products are designed and manufactured in London, which has insulated it from the wider challenges. It also sources components within the UK.

Mr Molyneux said: “Since we have been back in January it has been non-stop. I really think things are moving forward at quite a rate of knots.” He declined to comment on current turnover projections, but expressed hope of returning to pre-pandemic growth rates of 25% year-on-year.

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