Ely Cathedral, Ely, UK

11th January 2023

As part of a move to be more energy efficient, Ely Cathedral has been given a new lighting scheme, controlled by Pharos Architectural Controls.

Ely Cathedral is located in the picturesque city of Ely in East Cambridgeshire. The site can be dated back to AD 763, when it began its life as an abbey church built by St Etheldreda. The current building dates from 1083, and Ely was raised to cathedral status in 1109. As part of the Church of England, Ely Cathedral is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. To help achieve this, the lighting at Ely Cathedral is currently being upgraded to a more energy efficient and sustainable system.

While the Cathedral is primarily a place of worship, it is also an important heritage attraction, a venue for music and events, and an occasional location for filming. It was therefore key to ensure that any new lighting scheme could show the architecture off to its full potential, while supporting a range of uses and enhancing its daily round of worship.

The work has been split into phases, with phase one focusing on the exterior of the Cathedral’s Octagon Tower.

Light Perceptions was appointed to the project with a brief to remove the existing flood lighting and design a scheme that was flexible and controllable while offering higher levels of energy efficiency.

The flexibility of the external system is important as it allows the Cathedral to use colours and dynamic lighting to mark special occasions or events, such as red, white, and blue for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, or the colours of the liturgical calendar. The previous lighting allowed for only a single colour. In addition, the new system has removed the need for someone to change the lighting manually when required, which incurred time and cost.

To deliver the control aspect of the exterior lighting design, Pharos Architectural Controls was selected. A Pharos TPC (Touch Panel Controller) is now used, offering a customisable 4.3-inch touchscreen with a single Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) network connection. The touchscreen interface allows Ely Cathedral to create multiple pages of controls and configure their appearance to provide immediate visual feedback.

The advanced technology of the Pharos TPC allows for control of lighting levels and playbacks that can gracefully transition between scenes, timelines, effects, and pixel-mapped media.

To bolster the system further, a Pharos EXT has also been used. The EXT is an extension for the Pharos TPC and together they form a standalone, mains-powered lighting control system with flexible output and show control options. The EXT also provides local DMX and DALI output for the TPC, as well as power and other hardware interfaces.

Bruce Kirk, Director at Light Perceptions said: “Ely Cathedral is visited by thousands of people every year, which makes us incredibly proud to know we have contributed to the new lighting system now that phase one is complete. The outdated lighting was no longer fit for purpose, using high levels of energy, and costing far too much. The new lighting system will give the Cathedral the ability to control the lighting easily and embrace this to its full potential. Light Perceptions has worked with Pharos on a number of projects and, as always, their contribution and market-leading technology has completed the lighting scheme perfectly.”