Manchester Palace Theatre – Dimming & Control

Push The Button (PTB) tendered and won the contract to upgrade the dimming and data infrastructure at the Manchester Palace Theatre. This project encompassed the replacement of stage lighting dimmers, refreshing the mains distribution to the dimmer room and the installation of data lines throughout the theatre.

The Manchester Palace Theatre dates back to its grand opening on 18 May 1891. Despite enduring a direct hit from a German bomb during the Manchester Blitz in September 1940, the theatre persevered and maintained its position as one of the premier theatres outside London, boasting a seated capacity of 1,955.

With the project scope outlined, the theatre team informed Push The Button of a three-week dark period, where the theatre would be closed, to execute the installation of the new infrastructure along with a period where a major touring show would be working with their own touring dimmers, allowing for further transition time. The PTB team commenced preparatory work weeks in advance to ensure a seamless transition.

During the assessment phase, Push The Button identified discrepancies in the existing mains distribution system, necessitating upgrades to accommodate the new electrical requirements. PTB tested the parallel 400mm² supplies, and installed a 600A Schneider board with surge protection. Additionally, a supplementary sub-mains board was integrated to cater to non-controlled outlets, with all cabling meticulously protected by newly installed galvanised containment.

Prior to the upgrade, the theatre relied on obsolete Rank Strand STM dimmers from the 1970s, which suffered occasional failures and dwindling access to replacement parts. PTB recommended the installation of 3x ETC Sensor 36 module enclosures with ETC ThruPower Modules, each boasting 72 channels of dimming or switching to ensure flexibility for visiting productions.

In addition to the dimming system overhaul, Push The Button installed a data control rack in the dimmer room. The 32U equipment rack offers ample space for current requirements, with provisions for future expansion. PTB installed CAT6A FTP cable throughout the auditorium and stage areas, complemented by multimode and single-mode fibre connections between critical locations. The installation of an independent containment system ensured optimal protection for all new data cabling. Additionally, PTB modified existing facility panels and added 8 new bespoke panels to facilitate access to DMX and data lines, seamlessly blending modern functionality with existing infrastructure.