Piccadilly Circus lights to go out for site renovations – BBC News

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Image caption An advert for series four of Sherlock appeared on the screen in December

The lights of Piccadilly Circus are due to be switched off for the longest period of time since World War Two.

The famous billboard, which has displayed electrical advertisements for more than a century, will go dark at 08:30 GMT for work to take place.

It is the first time since 1949 that the iconic lights have gone off, except for power cuts and special occasions.

A temporary advertising banner will replace the lights until a new single screen is unveiled in the autumn.

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Image caption Illuminated advertisements, seen here in 1912, were first introduced to Piccadilly Circus in 1908

The revamped interactive billboard will replace the current six screens.


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As well as being an advertising board, it will be able to provide live video streaming and give updates about events such as the weather and sports results.

Ros Morgan, chief executive of the Heart of London business alliance, said the new screen would “bring visitors an enhanced entertainment experience”.

About 100 million people are estimated to pass through Piccadilly Circus each year.

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Image caption The lights, seen here on VE Day, were switched off for a decade during and just after World War Two
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Image caption The new display will boast one of the highest resolution LED displays of its size in the world

The lights have previously gone out in 1939 to comply with World War Two blackouts. They were not switched back on until 1949.

Since then, they have only been turned off as a mark of respect, including during the funerals of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, and in support of environmental campaigns.

The occasional power cut and the imposed three-day week in the 1970s have also plunged Piccadilly Circus into darkness.

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Image caption Coca-Cola has a 62-year residency on the Piccadilly Circus display
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Image caption The occasional power cut, like this one in June 2007, has also turned off the illuminations

The new display, which will be the same size as the current space, will be shared by six advertisers.

Coca-Cola has been advertising in Piccadilly Circus since 1954 and will continue its residency, while Samsung will also have a spot.

Vasiliki Arvaniti, portfolio manager at Land Securities, said the new screen would offer brands “pioneering new ways to connect” with people.

Light history

  • 1819 – Piccadilly Circus is built to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly
  • 1908 – First electrical advertisements appear, with Perrier the first brand to be illuminated
  • 1923 – Electric billboards are set up on the facade of London Pavilion to advertise Bovril
  • 2011 – LED displays completely replace neon lamps

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-38610332

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