Spectacular illuminated train show designed by Chichester man - 'I can’t fathom just how big this has got'

A concert lighting designer from Chichester was the brains behind the 'world's first' illuminated train show which wowed crowds in Hampshire this month.

Friday, 25th December 2020, 9:00 am
Updated Friday, 25th December 2020, 8:29 pm

Steam Illuminations shows took place on the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line, offering visitors the chance to see unique, LED-lit trains between Alresford and Alton.

Created in partnership with Purple Lighting Ltd, it is a light show, on and in two steam trains, consisting of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands.

Steam train enthusiast Simon Horn, from Fishbourne, who 'does lighting for a living', revealed it was project which kept him busy throughout the first lockdown.

The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Stephen Morley

He said: "Other railways have put lights on a train but no where near the extent I have. It took a good four, five months, working out the design, implementing it and testing it."

Simon said, due to the size of the trains, off-the-shelf products didn't suffice, so he had to custom-design his own.

"I did everything up until we arrived on site," he said. "A technician, another Chichester lad, helped with me with three other volunteers on the railway. We rigged up two trains in two weeks."

Simon said the lights 'looked amazing on the outside' but he also wanted the passengers inside to get the same experience.

Steam train enthusiast Simon Horn, from Fishbourne, who 'does lighting for a living', revealed it was project which kept him busy throughout the first lockdown.

He said: "We put lights on the inside and gave the passengers wristbands for an interactive experience.

"The response has been incredible. We've had no bad feedback. Everybody has been really happy and in such a great mood.

"The fields and bridges were full of people trying to get videos of it. Seeing the fields lit up with people's phone cameras, recording it, almost brought a tear to my eye.

"People were so pleased to have something nice to do at Christmas."

The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Dave Ryding

Simon said it was not the first train to be illuminated for Christmas, but was 'arguably the first Illuminated Steam Train in the world' that has been covered in 'fully controllable pixel mappable LEDs'.

He added: "I can’t fathom just how big this has got, it's been seen as far as New Zealand, Australia, America and I have just been told it even went out on Moscow television. It has raised something close to half a million, so, with this and the grant they received, the railway is in a stable place now, after a tricky year."

As a concert lighting designer, Simon said it's been a 'miserable time for our industry, with 'all tours cancelled and moved to next year'.

"Having this [steam train project] on the side has been helpful" he said. "It's a dream come true as I've been able to put two of my passions together in one place."

The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Stephen Morley

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The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Stephen Morley
The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Dave Ryding
The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Stephen Morley
The light show, on and in two steam trains, consisted of more than 13,000 fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. Photo: Stephen Morley