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2008/90/1 Theatre spotlight, carbon arc type, Strand Pattern 501, and power supply unit, metal / paint / plastic / wood, made by Strand Electric, London, England, 1946-1960, used at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946-1995. Click to enlarge.

Spotlight used at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney

Made in London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom, Europe, 1946-1960.

The design and operation of an often complex array of theatre lights has a great impact on how the audience experiences a live show. A combination of fixed and moving lights, directed at the stage from different angles, must effectively light the set to create the intended ambience as well as lighting the actors to focus audience attention as the director or choreographer intends.

This spotlight would have played an important role in various productions, providing brighter illumination of selec...

Summary

Object No.

2008/90/1

Object Statement

Theatre spotlight, carbon arc type, Strand Pattern 501, and power supply unit, metal / paint / plastic / wood, made by Strand Electric, London, England, 1946-1960, used at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946-1995

Physical Description

Theatre spotlight, carbon arc type, Strand Pattern 501 Sunspot, and power supply unit, metal / paint / plastic / wood, made by Strand Electric, London, England, 1946-1960, used at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946-1995

The barn door style sheetmetal lamp housing, focusing apparatus and electrical connection box are mounted on a heavy telescopic tripod stand. Inside the housing is a mechanism, operated via external handwheels, for maintaining optimum separation of the two carbon rods between which the arc of light is produced when in use. A (missing) mirror inside the housing reflects the light forward. In front of the housing is a metal tube through which the light passes, reaching first a glass heat shield, then an iris diaphragm for shaping the beam, a (missing) lens for focusing, and a magazine holding red, blue and amber gels and two empty gel frames. Manual controls are attached for changing the focus and beam angle. There were no carbon rods in the lamp at the time of acquisition. Most metal parts are painted black.

The separate heavy duty inductive power supply, with power factor correction, is housed in a metal box with electrical connectors, ammeter with 1-120 scale AC or DC, two fuses, switch, red indicator light, air vents and carry handles. A three-pin plug connected it to the mains supply, from which it drew 20 amps. It supplied power to the lamp via the electrical connector box attached to the tripod stand.

Marks

On the back of the lamp: 'Strand Electric Sunspot Arc Pattern No 501'.

Below the lens holder: a scale marked from 1 to 8 and the words 'Sunspot Arc serial no 3229.12'.

On base: Grace Bros Removals sticker with handwritten 'Canberra Theatre 2'.

On the power supply unit: a large white handpainted '1' near the ammeter; label 'lamphouse and inductor pilots' below the fuses; and handwritten instructions with circuit diagram and 'Strand Electric London'.

Production

Notes

The Strand Electric company was established in London's theatre district in 1914. Its manufacturing operation moved from Covent Garden to Gunnersbury, also in London, in 1932. It began making the Pattern 501 spotlight at Gunnersbury around 1946.

In use, electricity would flow to the carbon rods and across the gap between them, where a bright arc of light would form. The operator would need to constantly check the gap between the carbon rods as the carbon vaporised; the arc would disappear if the gap thus opened up became too large. The operator would focus the arc light, select the size, shape and colour of the spot thrown on the stage using the other controls, and highlight the changing action on stage by panning and tilting to follow an actor or actors. Colour was selected by swinging the appropriate gel in front of the light beam.

History

Notes

The spotlight was used at the Capitol Theatre on George Street in Sydney's Haymarket. It was removed during major renovations in 1995 and donated to the Museum.

The removalist's sticker suggests that the spotlight was used in Canberra at some stage, perhaps at the Canberra Theatre Centre, which opened in 1965 and had Strand equipment and two main theatres (hence the designation 'Theatre 2' on the sticker fits). The black finish of the spotlight tells us that it would not have been purchased new in 1965 for the Canberra theatre, as by 1960 the Pattern 501 was being painted grey rather than black.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Sydney City Council, 2008

Acquisition Date

8 May 2008

Cite this Object

Harvard

Spotlight used at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 September 2019, <https://ma.as/378538>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/378538 |title=Spotlight used at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 September 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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