The Light Console

The Light Console was a unique and innovative lighting control system created by Fred Bentham in the mid-1930s. While it was not commercially very successful, it was of great significance in the development of lighting control, and challenged the ideas of the time about the role of light in theatre performance, and so how it should be controlled.

I have collated some information on each of the 17 Light Consoles made in the table below – click the links for details of each one. Some additional general information and links to other resources appear below.

ConsoleInstalledLast known datePreservation
Original1935Removed from Palladium in 1949V&A Theatre Museum collection, London.
S’Carlos Opera House, Lisbon1940 Museu Nacional do Teatro Lisbon.
South Shore Icedrome, Blackpool1946  
Theatre Royal, Bristol1946Replaced by PR control c.1962Owned by Jim Laws. On loan to Rose Bruford College.
Palladium Theatre, London1949Replaced c.1969V&A Theatre Museum collection, London.
National Opera House, Ankara1949  
Palace Theatre, Manchester1949Replaced by Light Palette in 1981Preserved at Gerriets, in their Vogelsheim factory in south-east France.
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London1950Replaced in 1975Jim Laws collection.
Empress Hall, Earl’s Court, London1950  
Stoll Theatre, Kingsway, London1950Moved to ‘Talk of the Town’ (old London Hippodrome) in 1958 
Festival Hall, London1951Removed by Jim Laws c.1975DHA Lighting, London.
Coliseum, London1952  
Aula Magna, Caracas1954  
Adelphi Theatre, London1954Converted to something equivalent to a CD in 1962 
Her Majesty’s Theatre, London1954Removed by Greg Hamlin in 1978.Greg Hamlin private collection.
Plaza Cinema, Caracas1954  
Theatre Polski, Warsaw1955Reported as ‘recently removed’ in 1983Theatre Museum at the Grand Theatre - National Opera, Warsaw.

Other Light Console Resources:

Miscellaneous Light Console Documentation:

Strand Electric leaflet showing the RFH Light Console
Strand Electric leaflet showing the RFH Light Console. From the collection of Adam Grater.
A cue sheet from the RFH Light Console

A cue sheet from the RFH Light Console. From the collection of Adam Grater.