Photon Beard, formerly R.R.Beard Limited, was founded in 1882. In those Victorian times, gas powered limelight was the only form of light available that was powerful enough for use in theatre lighting and magic lanterns. It was Robert R. Beard who invented and pioneered the first automatic gas pressure regulator as well as many other new developments in this field.
(click on pictures below to enlarge them and again to return to normal)
Although in those early days a wide range of gas controlled lighting
equipment was manufactured by the company, it was in the theatre, film and photographic industries where R. R. Beard made its name. After the introduction of the early magic lanterns, the company developed a range of projection equipment, including the first portable movie projector.
In the 1920s and 30s Beard was one of the recognised names for lighting within the British Film Industry. It was Beard's lighting equipment that was chosen for the then new Pinewood Film Studios, which led to further installations in many London and provincial theatres.
During the Second World War, the company specialised in supplying security systems for the Admiralty and Air Ministry. Peacetime saw the company concentrating on the design and manufacture of professional photographic equipment for studio and darkroom production. It was during this period that the company developed a range of photographic enlarging easels, which became an instant success and a world-widemarket leader.
With the advent of portable television and video cameras, new avenues were opened for the development of high quality, portable lighting equipment, which the company now manufactures and exports to world markets. Latterly, the company continues to design and develop new cost-efficient, energy saving, cool running, portable fluorescent lighting systems, which are proving to be another success story. Whilst this is their primary focus, they realise that tungsten is still a vital part of the lighting industry, and thus have created tungsten lighting to the highest quality, including their excellent Fresnel range.
Robert Royou Beard (1856-1932) was born in Bermondsey, London . His family were in the wine trade, but the young Robert became apprenticed to Oakley's, a firm of brass-finishers, who were involved in the manufacture of magic lanterns. He invented an automatic regulator for high-pressure oxygen cylinders, a necessity for lantern illuminants, and in 1882 set up his own company, R.R. Beard Ltd., to manufacture it. His next most successful invention was the Eclipse slide carrier, which made magic lantern operation easier, and gave a primitive mix on the screen. Beard had a practical interest in cinematography from its first appearance in England.
In 1946 his son Percy recalled being taken to see the 1896 Lumière Cinématographe show at the Regent Street Polytechnic. Very soon afterwards the Beard Cinematograph (with Maltese cross intermittent) appeared on the market, and Beard projectors were produced well into the next century.
So... Who still has one of these tucked away somewhere?
The "new" Broadsheild
A range of products used pre-digital!!
Back in the psychedelic days of 1974 at Photokina!
The company eventually specialised in making lighting for the cinematograph industry, and continues to trade as Photon Beard (following amalgamation with Photon Lighting Ltd in 1990), producing low energy lighting for the film and televsion industries. Stephen Herbert (revised September 2008)