Swindon’s Decent Group creates software system for Blackpool Illuminations

By Nick Batten on 4 September, 2023

Last week ( Friday 1st September) Blackpool’s Illuminations were lit up with the hidden support of a unique software system which ensures that the hundreds of complex displays are installed safely and efficiently.  

Billed as the ‘greatest free light show on earth,’ the event continues to evolve each year as new displays are unveiled, from traditional illuminated scenes to contemporary laser and fibre optics. Today the successful switch-on of this world-famous spectacle relies on a bespoke system created by Swindon-based software company Decent Group. 

This stock management system not only knows the location of every piece of equipment required but also provides precise instructions on how to install every display. It is a key tool for the team at Blackpool’s illuminations workshop, Lightworks, who are responsible for designing, building, storing and installing the Illuminations. 

The stock management system being used on a tablet

Every year the team faces the mammoth task of lifting and installing a vast array of displays, some weighing more than a tonne, and ensuring that the entire spectacle works flawlessly. 

Describing the system’s impact on the team, Richard Williams, Illuminations Manager, said, “We can work more easily, more quickly, more consistently and more safely. We feel very confident now that we have these new systems to call on.” 

The software automatically orders new bulbs and other parts when stock is running low, and keeps track of the vital inspections that check and test this lifting equipment. 

Critically, it also stores the information needed to install each display – weight, centre of gravity, the exact chains, straps and slings required and, crucially, guidance on the best way to lift each display, based on test lifts in the workshop. 

This behind-the-scenes system is also a vital part of the daily switching on of the lights. Every day until 1st January, Decent’s system will initiate the process across more than 200 miles of cabling – ensuring that six miles of displays light up in perfect sequence. 

Decent’s Director and Founder, James Ducker, said, “It’s so satisfying to use the latest digital technologies to maintain a wonderful tradition that stretches back to the very earliest use of electricity on Britain’s streets. We continue to evolve the systems we’ve put in place for the Lightworks team, making their challenging work safer and simpler.” 

Pictured above: The Blackpool Illuminations