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HSL helps Control t’force at Emley Moor mast installation

Iconic mast lit up as part of 2014 Yorkshire Festival and start of this year’s Tour de France cycle race.

Leading UK lighting and visuals rental specialist HSL supplied equipment for a bold, vibrant interactive lighting installation work – Control t’force – created by lighting designer James Bawn, that illuminated the 330m-high Emley Moor mast in west Yorkshire. The mast is the tallest freestanding structure in the UK, an iconic local landmark and the main UHF transmitter for most of the county.

Specially commissioned by TG Events on behalf of Kirklees Council as part of Hypervelocity, the grand finale of the 2014 Yorkshire Festival, the Control t’force project ran over two evenings and also celebrated the start of the 2014 Tour de France cycle race in Yorkshire.

Bawn has been involved in some previous architectural lighting projects for the council and when his ideas for lighting the Emley Moor broadcast transmitting station mast (currently owned by telecommunications and broadcast transmission company Arqiva) received the green light, he immediately turned to Simon Stuart and Mike Oates at Blackburn-based HSL to provide the equipment and additional expertise.

“We were really excited to be involved and to help James realise such a stunning and inventive idea that made history as the first time the tower has ever been fully lit,” said Simon Stuart.

HSL supplied A&O Technology Falcon 6000 searchlights, Robe CitySkape Xtreme LED floods, Chroma-Q Color Force 48 LED battens and Clay Paky Sharpies and continued its investment in Luminex with a brand new bespoke fibre optic system especially for the project. This incorporated Luminex Gigacore 16Xt switchers and Ethernet convertors coupled with a 350 m run of Armourflex fibre cable.

Bawn not only produced a stunning piece of pop-up public art involving the Grade II-listed structure, he made it a truly interactive experience utilising Kirklees Council’s events Twitter page, creating #lightthemast. This enabled people to request their favourite colours when the installation was live each night, with James tweeting back as he changed the colours.

On the first evening, #lightthemast was the fourth most popular trending topic in the UK inciting a phenomenal reaction that also sent thousands of people flocking to the location a mile west of Emley in Kirklees.

HSL supplied some sample fixtures and helped conduct a series of site tests to establish the exact kit needed and its optimum location to make the tapered reinforced concrete tower shine like a giant light-sabre visible for miles around.

Seven separate Steeldeck platforms – also supplied by HSL – were erected in a radius around the mast approximately 20 m away from the structure and each 20 m apart. Bawn also energised his best diplomatic skills in persuading the local farmer to embrace the project and let him locate some of the platforms on his land!

On each platform was an array of searchlights and a CitySkape Xtreme. On the floor directly in front of the platforms was another Falcon 6K and two more CitySkape Xtremes – all of them firing at the tower.

Inside the Mast’s control room, which is 274 m off the ground, were the 10 Sharpies and the 20 Color Force 48s, arranged so light bounced off the celling and was clearly visible through all the windows. On the roof of the control room a 30 watt RGB laser was rigged and could be seen from miles around.

These fixtures were all controlled from the production platform set up in the field below via the fibre backbone, which would have been impossible to achieve in any other way.

The most requested colour for Control t’force proved to be yellow – for the leader’s shirt of the Tour de France – closely followed by blue and pink!