Theatre lighting control unit, British, 1860s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Gaslight control unit with tap-turning spanner, from the Star Music Hall, Bermondsey, London. It was discovered that a series of gas jets could be lit simultaneously from a centralised unit, greatly expanding the posibilities for theatrical lighting effects. The 'gas plate' soon became a common feature found in the wings. A number of pipes ran from the main supply pipe and were controlled by stop-cocks. By manipulating the appropriate key, different lights in the theatre could be brightened or dimmed.