Built in the 1880‘s, the Corn Exchange is one of Ipswich’s premiere entertainment complexes. Featuring stunning Victorian architecture, the venue regularly houses theatre productions and a variety of entertainment shows. A short walk from the Corn Exchange is the Regent Theatre, which is East Anglia’s largest theatre and has an auditorium that holds 1,500 people. To facilitate the various productions in each building, both venues decided to invest in a new motor rigging system. As the technical solution specialist, White Light was called upon to oversee the entire installation.
The project was led by WL’s Engineering Manager Patrick Lockwood. He comments: “We won the tender to provide the new motors to Ipswich’s Corn Exchange and the Regent Theatre. We have worked on similar projects in the past, such as the LoadGuard Motors we installed in the Great Hall at Central Hall Westminster, so are fully aware of what various spaces require and what to do in order to achieve this”.
The previous motors were the non VBG 8+ type so needed secondary lock-offs which both venues found were no longer practical and did not fulfill their health and safety standards. These needed replacing with something that was not only suitable but complied to the venues’ regulations and came within budget.
Patrick states: “There were three areas in which we worked. These were the stage truss grid and auditorium in the Corn Exchange along with the stage in the Regent Theatre. For the auditorium, this had a very old static lighting structure directly above it meaning that any time additional equipment needed to be added this would require a cherry picker, which obviously wasn’t very practical”.
Patrick visited the site and, after speaking with Steve Bridgeman, the venues’ Building Services Engineer, decided that the StageMaker BGV D8+ and wall mounted controllers supplied by Hoist UK were the ideal solution.
Patrick adds: “The StageMaker SR has what is known as a ‘Perfect Push’, which is five pocket load wheels fitted with five intermediate teeth. This innovation means improved chain guiding and chain flow, reducing the risk of chain jamming. Similarly, they have double brake as standard which means they are extremely safe and comply with VBG 8+ regulations and all hoist motors have integral thermal protection to prevent overheating. They are also very reasonably priced and easy-to-use meaning they were perfect for both theatres”.
Patrick and the WL team spent two weeks on site in Ipswich where they oversaw the installation of the new motors. WL also added 10 GDS 8-light units along with a wireless GDS system to control the new set-up.
Working within such a historic venue, this meant that WL had to create a system which worked alongside the historic architecture whilst ensuring the very latest technology could be used to its full potential.
Patrick adds: “One of the biggest factors during the install was the arched roof above the auditorium. The cable management had always been a problem and it was something that five contractors prior to WL could not solve. To tackle this, we decided to run the cables along the arch, through to the brackets (which were specifically designed by myself and manufactured and tested by Hoist UK) and then onto the chainrunners. Not only was this extremely practical but ensured that it achieved a balance between the amazing architecture and the new installation”.
Patrick concludes: “This was a really interesting job and it was great to work with venues such as the Corn Exchange and Regent Theatre and provide the exact solution they required. At WL, we relish the opportunity of working up and down the country at venues of all sizes, ensuring that they have the exact technical set-up they require”.