UK – Cambridge – Arts Theatre

Dates: 1936 – present

Website: https://www.cambridgeartstheatre.com/

Hugh Chinnick has sent the following – see photos below:
This was the very first remote dimmer selector designed and built by Elwyn B Davis, a student at Cambridge, who worked as a casual on shows at the Arts Theatre. He was sick of sitting alone on the board during long focus sessions, and decided to design and build this remote control, which he called Dial-A-Light. It was located in the Prompt Corner and had an extension multicore cable so it could be taken on stage.
Operation was simple. Select the ‘tens’ on the thumb wheel and dial in the ‘unit’. Up came the selected dimmer. The previous dimmer would fade out when another dimmer was dialed up. Holding the silver button on the left would ‘add’ and the blue button (top left) cancelled all. It worked through a series of telephone stepping switches (uniselectors) and other electronic bits housed in the dimmer room. Purely by accident during a repair, it was found that it was possible to add another switch (centre) which would allow you to dial up all the dimmers in the ‘tens’ that was selected on the thumb wheel in quick succession. So if 1 (10) was selected on the thumb wheel and you dialed in 0, from 10 to 19 would come to full. Push ‘hole’ then select 2 and dial 0 and from 20 to 29 would add in. Very advanced for the time. Dates back to early 1970s.

Links to information about equipment at Arts Theatre, Cambridge over the years

  • JTM (Strand)
  • LP / System LP (Luminous Preset) (Strand)
  • Documents

    Dial-A-Light at Cambridge Arts Theatre (1970s)
    Dial-A-Light at Cambridge Arts Theatre (1970s) 
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    [53kb  JPEG]
    From Hugh Chinnick Collection
    Prompt Corner and Dial-A-Light at Cambridge Arts Theatre (1970s)
    Prompt Corner and Dial-A-Light at Cambridge Arts Theatre (1970s) 
    Click on thumbnail to enlarge
    [1.08Mb  JPEG]
    From Hugh Chinnick Collection

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