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1939 __ Kaleidakon — Light Console
Comment : The 1939 London Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition featured a "72-way Light Console and Compton Organ for Colour Music", as well as a 70 feet, 230 kW "Kaleidakon" tower. This revolutionary lighting control, and the ubiquitous Pattern 23 spotlight became synonymous with Fred Bentham and Strand. The Light Console’s lasting legacy was to progress the technology of lighting control from a complex on-stage mechanical device to a remote control which could be located where the operator could actually see what was being lit. A specially-made church organ console remotely controlled banks of resistance dimmers which were connected to constant-speed, motor driven shafts via magnetic clutches. (Compiled from various sources)My special interest is in the early Compton Theatrone electronic organs, as I own what is possibly the first, dating from 1938. There seems to be very little written material about these organs, less than 20 were made, and I am exploring various leads in the hope of finding out more information. In a roundabout way, I learned that Compton had some involvement with the Ideal Home Exhibition circa 1938, and wondered if my organ could have been there. Hence I e-mailed the present-day organisers, and have been sent copies a few pages from the 1939 programme and also from a book about the exhibition over the years. The light show described by Stephen Hancock was the centrepiece of the 1939 exhibition, in front of which Lord & Lady Harmsworth declared the exhibition open. The feature was described as the 'Kaleidakon' and it seems it was just as Stephen described. However the programme states that B. E. Bear was to operate the Light Console. The music was provided by the famous cinema organist Quentin MacLean on a Compton Theatrone (which was not my one). The organ console and the light console were symmetrically positioned facing each other, to one side of the lake. (Whether this was a later repeat of a 1932 feature would be interesting to know, in which case the newfangled electronic organ might have succeeded a live band. Pipe organs were impractical to transport!). (Adrian Buesnel, September 2001)
Urls : http://www.strandarchive.co.uk/control/manual/lightconsole/lightconsole.html (last visited ) http://www.prisma-scene.com/musee/very-old-strand/cont-light-console.pdf (last visited )

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