The Prison Cell started as all projects do, a sketch on the back of a “Fag Packet” although in this case it was a piece of used A4 paper. A rough specification was a set of hinged Prison bars, one side 0.6mtr wide the other 1.3mtrs wide. Initial suggestions were of the bars being screwed together with a liberal use of Gaffer tape. With the number of rehearsals and the number of times the bars would be moved on and off the stage, would this type of construction last ?
First thing to obtain was the prison bars, what could we use? They needed to be light weight and economical , broom handles?? The wooden handles would be costing pounds each, too expensive. Plastic conduit started to be considered as an alternative for the cell bars, but white conduit would be a pain trying to paint them black. Anyway after consultation of the Screwfix catalogue, problem over, 10 lengths, 2mtrs long X 25mm diameter of black conduit tubing, prison bars sorted !
Next problem, timber for the frame, luckily “Rear Commodore House” had some surplus boards that could be used for the frame. Next requirement was a workshop, thankfully problem solving Jim Sey came to the rescue allowing me use of his workshop and equipment.
With help from a circular saw the boards were reduced to half lengths, drilled with a 25mm diameter Forstner bit (fancy gadget) to locate the black plastic prison bars, then to make up the two panels, one, 2mtrs high X 0.6mtrs wide, the second to be 2mtrs high X 1.3mtrs wide and hinged.
One final requirement, colour, the cell needs to be black, this amount of paint would be expensive for what we need. Step in the “Pound Shop” a tub of dark grey emulsion, just the job! One set of Prison Bars complete, ready to be moved on and off the stage many times without coming apart and to be robust enough to resist the antics of the ‘Stars’ in the cruising supper pantomime.
John Bell Junior