1/09/2016 — 7/01/2017

Illuminations Archive


Blackpool Illuminations drawing (1932)

Courtesy: Blackpool Council

Running concurrently with NEON: The Charged Line, the Grundy is exhibiting images of original designs for 1930s neon Illuminations, taken from Blackpool’s unique and historic archive of working drawings, which extends across the Twentieth Century. These early designs will be shown in a parallel display in the gallery’s upstairs rotunda gallery.

'The Charged Line' refers not only to the scientific properties of the neon but also its cultural history, tracing a lineage closely associated with Blackpool.

Achieved by passing an electrical current through different noble gasses, the phosphorescence of neon was first discovered in 1898, with the process subsequently patented by Georges Claude in 1915. In Britain, Blackpool was one of the first places to show neon in the early 1930s, after it became widely used first in Paris, then in Los Angeles and New York, with the ‘Claudgen’ company designing a series of neons as part of its annual ‘Illuminations’ held in the town.