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History1

History

Founded in 1971, White Light is now in its 45th year as a leading supplier of creative solutions and technical excellence to the entertainment and corporate-event industries.

Our heritage is in theatre: our first job was the transfer of The Rocky Horror Show from the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs to the Kings Road Theatre. We continue to supply equipment to theatre productions, including some of the biggest shows in the West End: the year-long Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company season at the Garrick, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Matilda, Les Misérables, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Aladdin and many more. We also offer our services on fringe and touring productions, working closely with lighting designers on any production of every scale.

As the complete production solution specialist, our work now spreads beyond just lighting. Our dedicated audio department is an appointed dealer for some of the world’s largest audio manufacturers and has offered its services on prolific events such as the Rugby World Cup. Our video work has seen us not only invest in the very latest projection equipment but work extensively in broadcasting, supporting ITV Sport with their coverage of the Champions and Europa League. We also continue to offer rigging and staging to events and projects across the globe, from launch events at the National Portrait Gallery to the UK Tour of Doctor Who’s Symphonic Spectacular.

As part of our 200 strong staff, we have a dedicated Customer Service team to help you with any sales or hires inquiries you may have. Our installation team have provided the very latest AV and lighting systems to venues as far afield as Germany, Singapore and Macau, with their most recent install being EXHIBITIONISM at the Saatchi Gallery. Our Service Engineers maintain and support venues around the country either as required or through long-term service contracts. Similarly, our Events team offers the complete production support on any occasion, from equipment rental to design, specification, installation, crewing and operation.

Though our equipment stock is one of the most diverse and comprehensive in the business, we’re also happy to create products if we can’t find quite the right tool for the job. Our popular VSFX optical effect system is specified by lighting designers worldwide. Our Snow Machine, developed for Billy Elliot, won an award at the 2008 LDI Show, and has been used on many shows since.

All of these activities are serviced from our base in Wimbledon, south-west London, which offers 65,000 square feet of warehouse and equipment preparation space and 10,000 square feet of office space. We also provide a home to a number of other companies working in various fields of the entertainment and corporate event industries industries.

The overall result is a multi-faceted company employing over 200 people with an annual turnover of £20 million that covers every area of entertainment and corporate event industry.

In these changing times – both at home and in the world at large – WL provides a familiar touchstone offering superb service and support as it has done for more than four decades.

See the evolution of our website through the years »

See the People Who Contributed to White Light page »


Timeline

1971: White Light founded by John Simpson, Andy Phillips, Rory Dempster, David Henderson and Angela Fox, many of them having worked together at London’s Royal Court Theatre.

1973: Supplies The Rocky Horror Show at the Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court, and subsequently oversees the show’s transfer to the Kings Road Theatre.

1975: Lights Supertramp. Simpson Fox Agency founded.

1976: Produces the York Mystery Play cycle.

1977: Moves to Filmer Road, Fulham, home for the next twenty-five years.

1978: Exhibits at the first ABTT Trade Show in London.

1979: Purchases the first Green Ginger Microset 20-way lighting desks.

1980: Rental price of the classic Strand Patt 23 increased to £1.10 per week!

1981: Declines the contract for the musical Cats, thinking it would never run… White Light North in Yorkshire founded by John Anderton.

1985: Turnover exceeds £1m for the first time.

1986: Takes over pioneering entertainment CAD bureau Modelbox, acquires Donmar Hire & Sales. Receives investment from 3i.

1987: Acquires first fax machine.

1988: Acquires Theatre Sound & Lighting Limited.

1989: Supplies equipment to M. Butterfly, the first West End show to use Rainbow colour scrollers (lit by White Light co-founder Andy Phillips), and Miss Saigon, which runs until 1999; White Light then supplied touring productions of Miss Saigon until they closed in 2006, and is now supplying the Japanese production of the show.

1990: VSFX optical effect system created. White Light USA formed.

1991: Innovative Modelbox Autolight lighting design software launched.

1993: Supplies Crazy for You and many others in the West End. WL in 1993»

1994: Democratises the availability of moving lights by creating The Moving Light Company, supplying equipment to Grease and The Rocky Horror Show.

1995: Supplies first ETC Source Fours to the musical Tommy and the play Burning Blue. Introduces the Morpheus ProSpot to the UK.

1996: First White Light website created. Supplies major shows including Martin Guerre and Jesus Christ Superstar.

1997: Supplies Chicago in London. It runs for the next fifteen years…

1998: Supplies shows including Saturday Night Fever and Rent. Establishes White Light Bursary for student lighting designers.

1999: Colourhouse Technical Presentations, now White Light’s Corporate & Events team, created to service the ever-growing number of Corporate clients. Lights the Pyramids in Cairo. White Light website redesigned; new design runs until 2006.

2000: Creates the popular White Light training and education scheme.

2001: Moves to its current base in Wimbledon, south-west London. 42 out of the 69 shows in the West End during the year use WL equipment. Established White Light’s Events team to cater for increased demands from party and event organisers.

2003: New services include direct SMS text number, improving out-of-hours response. Lights the BA London Eye and a charity concert for Elton John on the same night!

2004: White Light’s Digital Festoon System wins an Award for Innovation at the 2004 PLASA Show.

2005: Shows during the year include Billy Elliot plus events and parties at Old Billingsgate Fish Market, the Science Museum, Kew Gardens, and many more top London locations. Lighting for Painshill Park in Surrey forms the subject of a feature article in Country Life magazine.

2006: First job of the year, Footloose, leaves the warehouse on January 1st! Launches new website; this design running until 2012. Wimbledon base re-organised with additional mezzanine levels to house ever-expanding hire stock. Supplies Evita, Spamalot and many others. Helps the Royal Court Theatre celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

2007: White Light North re-located to Wimbledon. Supplies the UK tour of The Producers, the epic stage adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings and many others.

2008: Supplies the new UK tour of Mary Poppins, the first show to use the EvenLED LED cyclorama lighting system. Helps with the creation of the Mayor of London’s Green Theatre Programme. Undertakes major sales and installations projects across the UK and around the world.

2009: Supplies City of Dreams in Macau, Nürburgring Visitors Centre in Germany. Installs new external lighting at the Natural History Museum in London.

2010: Launches innovative HyLight hydrogen fuel cell lighting system. White Light iPhone app launched. Supplies Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, in London, Voyage De La Vie in Singapore and the annual Tattoo in Edinburgh.

2011: White Light Family of products grows to 16 manufacturers distributed in the UK exclusively by White Light. Celebrates fortieth birthday, looking forward to many more years to come…

2012: New website launched. Supplies stage shows including the UK tour of The Lion King and the new musicals The Bodyguard and Viva Forever, plus events ranging from EE Live, the launch of Britain’s latest mobile phone network, to the Horse of the Year Show.

2014: Provides the production support on concerts for Wet Wet Wet, George Benson, Elton John, The Seekers and Barry Manilow. Sponsors the UK Theatre Awards. Installs LED house lighting at Savoy Theatre. Named approved supplier for Historic Royal Palaces. Provides lighting for Tower of London Poppies Display.

2015: Expands its audio services with dedicated audio department. Acquires Shock Solutions to increase video solution services. Named as Production Service Partner for Central Hall Westminster. Installs new audio system at Thorpe Park theme park. Launches Studio15, its very own  cutting-edge studio facility based in South Wimbledon.

2016: Launches ShopWL; an exclusive site offering the very best technical products. Continues broadcast work with ITV Sport’s coverage of Champions League, Europa League and EUROs. Supplies both Aladdin and Harry Potter in the West End. Supplies The Globe who uses lighting for the first time ever.