It is often forgotten that it was — and still is — possible to develop films without having to use a darkroom or changing bag. Most developing tanks sold in the UK had to be loaded in the dark, a process often accompanied by curses as the film jammed or buckled in the reel or chinks of light were spotted around the shutters that were used to cover the windows of a temporary darkroom.
The 35 mm equivalent was the Rondinax 35 U, also marketed by Leica as the Leitz Rondinax 35, particularly in the USA. Both these tanks had black plastic spirals. The film was dragged onto the spiral by a belt of ‘American cloth’ (rubber-coated cloth) along a plastic film guide. The rubber on the cloth perishes with age but the fabric without the rubber continued to work well for me.
|How the Rondix 35 Developing Tank Works without a spiral|
Instructions for the Rondix 35 are at:
The Rondix 35 was clearly not so popular as the Rondinax 35 (and neither as popular as the cheaper, vertical tanks that needed to be loaded in the dark). We wondered then whether people thought the film, not being held on a spiral, would be more likely to get scratched but we never found that to be the case. In fact, the Rondix tank and filtered developer produced some of the cleanest negatives I ever produced.
Informative websites on the history of these tanks are:
Post second world war copies of the Rondinax 35 (the ‘Essex’ and 60 (the ‘Kent’ were made in a collaboration between Johnsons of Hendon and Neville Brown (NEBRO) in the early 1950s, presumably from designs and patents confiscated by the allies. I have never seen one and the advertisements must have been before my time. By 1955, Agfa was in full flow advertising the Rondinax 35U and the 60 as the advertisement from the BJ Alamanac for 1956 shows (the BJ Almanac for a particular year appeared, as I recall, in the preceding autumn). I think the Rondix 35 appeared the next year.