Meet Jesse Carrington, co-founder and owner of Trainspotters, the leading authority in reclaimed, restored, and remade industrial lighting.


On a sunny May morning we had the pleasure of visiting some lovely old friends of ours at their depot and showroom in Stroud. Jesse Carrington is the co-founder and owner of Trainspotters. They are the leading authority in reclaimed, restored, and remade industrial lighting. Jesse was the first person to perceive a potential market for these heritage pieces, for both large scale commercial spaces as well as for domestic use. Lighting originating from public institutions, factories, and warehouses, particularly across eastern Europe, offer both practicality and a unique, contemporary elegance.

“There’s probably more of our lighting on Redchurch Street and in the Tea Building than probably most other projects put together”, laughed Jesse.

Since they began trading in 2005 Trainspotters have grown rapidly, supplying original luminaries to a wide array of projects all around the globe. From fashion brands like Ralph Lauren, Superdry, Urban Outfitters, Rag & Bone, Religion and All Saints to the Soho House group across multiple sites, stylish London boxing clubs, many cafés, bars and airports, Mark Hix restaurants (as well as his family home), the National Youth Theatre and several movie sets over the years including X Men First Class. They have also fitted out an Aubin & Wills and Jack Will’s shop or two in the past, including Aubin’s Shoreditch cinema
collaboration with Soho House. So their client list to date is long, impressive and spread far and wide across the world. The commonality being that each client was looking to enhance a sense of contemporary style within their brand DNA. They looked to Trainspotters, as the leading authority in this specialist market, to
add the finishing touch. These guys do what they do incredibly well and in the most unpretentious manner.

“It was an exciting time, it was us and Jamie Oliver and these big drafty warehouses full of space and potential”.


Along with his positive and unassuming disposition, Jesse has had a lot of experience in salvaging and reclamation; he would be considered a leading voice in this industry. He was a director of Lassco, England’s leading resource for architectural antiques, salvage and curiosities for 8 years. He ran Lassco’s head depot on Old Street, Shoreditch. They had a massive space next door to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, at a time when this area was still full of “old drafty warehouses”. They specialised in everything from interesting old door handles to removing whole Georgian wood panels from derelict pubs and re-building them in the Lassco warehouse.  

After years of travelling around Europe’s defunct warehouses and industrial buildings, sourcing interesting salvage for Lassco, Jesse knew the market inside out. He noticed that no one was taking lighting very seriously. At the time there seemed not to be a market or an interest for a huge wealth of industrial lighting, and it was being left behind. Where most overlooked or even thought of this style of lighting as ugly and awkward, Jesse could see a beauty in the giant Czech pendant lights with their original speckled graphite finish, vintage bulkhead lights, Communist tube lights and old French Street Lights. He appreciated them for their heritage and their working, industrial stories. He saw them for the iconic design pieces that they are, and set his sights on creating a business to save them and return them to full glory.

Along with Tony, his business partner at the time, they set up Trainspotters from a small workshop in a valley in between Stroud and the village of Slad in
Gloucestershire. Jesse had a young family and was keen to move them out of busy East London life; he’s from the picturesque village of Sheepscombe nearby. They rented the author Laurie Lee’s famous cottage in Slad, set just beneath the local artists and creatives favourite’s pub The Woolpack…so far so fitting!

 “We would come across little bits of lighting, but it seemed to be under-appreciated and under-valued, and people just weren’t taking on lighting”.

As they were the only people specialising in this type of salvage there were no buying sources to tap in to, no one to advise “it was like cold calling, people thought we were nuts, it was hard to get an in”, but an in they did get. They met a guy in East Germany who was beginning to cotton on to the same stuff, salvaging lighting from derelict factories and warehouses across the region. In the UK too locations seemed to gradually show themselves to the partners, empty spaces full of amazing lighting essentially going to waste. Heathrow’s derelict Concorde hangars for one, where they saved a set of stylish pendant lights with hand-blown Holophane style glass shades and steel frames from being destroyed. They salvaged lighting from the original Rover car factory in Longbridge, Birmingham in 2005, rescuing many hundreds of iconic vintage lights from the jaws of the crushers that were ripping through the complex. Sourcing trips such as these must have felt like striking gold, finding pieces that had been neglected and in need of some love but with a fascinating story to tell and big potential.

Clients came organically as demand for this industrial style of interior design grew; Soho House was and still is a big client, Soho House’s Pizza East was one of their early projects, where they fitted original French Street Lights. The impressive industrial style gym at Shoreditch House is home to Trainspotters green
enamelled pendants, they came from a 1940’s factory in northern England, and rectangular bulkheads, salvaged from a defunct factory in Poland. And they continue to supply a vast array of global clients. Jesse tells us that just last week they fitted lighting for Ralph Lauren’s big Hong Kong store. Café Nero is a big client of theirs too, bringing in a constant flow of demand for their classic re-makes.

“If you went out and looked for lighting online, there would just be the odd faux Victoriana or really tacky replicas”, Jesse saw a big potential in saving industrial lighting and restoring them for modern use.

Each light they salvage has a story to tell, a part of the job that Jesse likes best. Once a salvaging trip has been done, the lights would then by repaired and reconditioned back in their workshop with the greatest of care and expertise. Missing or new components are carefully sourced before finding their new home, a process which Jesse explains can be very time consuming.

Their restoration process is careful to conserve characteristic features, scuffs and marks, a valued reminder of their original hard-working background. This
respectful, restorative work is keeping an important part of history alive and is a true statement of the re-pair, recycle and re-use ethos that many businesses, including Aubin, aspire to. Trainspotters also make bespoke high-end redesigns, looking back at classic lighting and sympathetically re-making them
in today’s modern standards. All their own manufacturing is done using trusted craftspeople who they have worked with for many years. They look to Eastern Europe for the wealth of talent in glass blowing there, for example. They look to make where they can in the UK but as we’ve found, it isn’t always easy to bring business so close to home.

 As part of their sustainable business model, they also offer a buy back scheme where they encourage customers to sell back their vintage Trainspotters lights
to them rather than, perish the thought, get rid of them. Alternatively, they offer to recondition lights, emphasising their authentic built to last message. And it’s because of this way of sustainable working that the company has recently been awarded their B Corp status, something Jesse and all the employees are understandably enthusiastic about. And it’s no mean feat to achieve this accolade, even with their credentials, but something they unwaveringly worked towards for many years; ‘It’s taken a long time to get to this point, Poppy spent two days a week for two and half years working on it, you’ve got to change the whole
constitution of your company”. As part of their B Corp certification, they give 2% of their annual turnover to charity. They are looking at a few charities to support
currently; but Jesse thinks it’ll be a local rewilding charity, specifically with the reintroduction of beavers.


"It's about making something that's as good as , if not better than the original. These lights have been hanging since the 30's and that's what we want for our lights too".

“I think I’m addicted to the constant buzz and challenge, sourcing the vintage lighting is my favourite thing, it’s just a pleasure really.”

 As in many areas of design, the demand for unique vintage pieces is seeing an increase, so more sourcing trips are on the horizon for Jesse. Contemporary spaces around the globe, such as in Shoreditch and parts of Norway and Scandinavia where this type of design is seeing a rise in popularity, look to Trainspotters to help them create and build their brand image through their iconic lighting. The authenticity of their entire brand journey is very attractive, just as their lights create a unique atmosphere, the company’s ethics and ethos shine through. They fundamentally share Aubin’s ethos of Better is Greater Than More and we so look forward to working with them again in the future and seeing their business be nurtured and sustainably grow to ever greater heights.

 To view the whole collection and to find out more about our friends at Trainspotters you can visit their website- and follow them on Instagram