Cheddar Caves & Gorge are a natural wonder some 300 million years old in the heart of Somerset. Hidden below the limestone cliffs in a gorge three miles long are Cheddar Caves, an elaborate cave system. It was at these caves that Britain's oldest complete skeleton estimated to be 9,000 years old was discovered in 1903. Today the caves and gorge are one of Britain's favourite tourist spots, visited by an estimated 500,000 visitors a year.
Cheddar Caves & Gorge contracted Stage Electrics to improve their existing lighting systems inside the caves. The brief was to install replacement lighting which would help to create an ambient and spiritual environment. There are two main caves open to the public, the vast Gough's Cave and the smaller Cox's Cave. In Cox's Cave Stage Electrics installed and supplied a mix of Pulsar's Chroma Range products, including Chromascapes, Chroma MR16 fittings, and Chroma Battens, all controlled by a Pulsar Masterpiece replay unit and an OS1 outstation. The programming was carried out by Pulsar's Simon Cox, who created various colour changing settings to the clients specification. Pulsar fittings were recommended to give the client a wide colour pallet to set the scene so they could create different colour effects depending on the mood. Lighting has been placed under the pools of water in some areas of the cave or behind some of the shapes in the rocks to enhance the effects of the rocks.
Stage Electrics worked late into the night in cold February conditions to install the cave's architectural lighting. As lighting was installed in the pools of water and underneath the cave's water features, the Stage Electrics team wore waders to keep them dry whilst working. As the evening drew in they had the company of Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats down in the caves to compete with the cold climate.
Within Cox's Cave lies The Crystal Quest, a fantasy world dark-walk through the caves, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Stage Electrics supplied Showmagic software to The Crystal Quest which runs pre-programmed sequences to include a mix of audio and visual effects within the caves, triggered by existing PIRs built into the sides of the cave walls. Stage Electrics also installed 5 Zero 88 Betapak 3's to control the Crystal Quest lighting.
In Gough's Cave, Stage Electrics has supplied and installed a new dimming system in the Diamond Chamber section of the cave. This includes two four-way Chilli Dimmers and a Chilli Net control panel which will interact with the tour guides.
"We were very pleased to be able to call upon Stage Electrics, who are well known as one of the best firms in the business for this kind of work," said Cheddar Caves Marketing Manager Bob Smart. "Interpreting a cave by sound and light is a very specialised discipline, and there are many practical problems to be overcome which are not found in a normal stage environment. The Stage Electrics team has worked hard to bring our in-cave effects into the 21st century, and has helped ensure that the magic of our underland wonderland is brought to life for visitors in an even more memorable way."