skip to main content
Penny Hydraulics keep it cool at Highgate School!

Penny Hydraulics keep it cool at Highgate School!


Award-winning lifting specialist Penny Hydraulics Ltd has recently completed a project at Highgate School in North London to mechanically lift and lower ventilation systems and chandeliers in the main library for quick and easy cleaning and maintenance.

Highgate School is one of the most famous and well-renowned day schools in the UK. With three schools in one: Pre-Preparatory, Junior and Senior, the school welcomes both girls and boys from a diverse range of backgrounds and schools, both state and independent, throughout North London and further afield.

Priding itself on being a happy and cohesive community where pupils enjoy life to the full, value their friendships and achieve balance in their lives, Highgate School was established way back in 1565 by a Royal Charter of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the First. Sir Roger Cholmeley, the school’s founder, was granted Letters Patent to found ‘a grammar school…for good education and instruction’.

The external appearance of the majority of the Senior School buildings originates from the nineteenth century, constructed under the dynamic leadership of the Head Master, Rev. John Bradley Dyne (1838-1874). This includes the notable North London landmark of the School Chapel, which dominates the western end of Highgate High Street, and which was restored to its full glory in 2013.

The Junior School was also founded in the nineteenth century and moved to its present site on Bishopswood Road in 1938. This building has given way to a new school which opened in December 2015, the School’s 450th anniversary year. The Pre-Preparatory School opened in 1993 and, like the Junior School, enjoys a beautiful aspect over the main school playing fields towards Hampstead Heath.

Penny Hydraulics lighting winch division were contacted to help with a specialised lighting and ventilation project in the main school library. The school required 4 large destratification fans to be installed within doughnut shaped lighting rafts which could be mechanically lifted and lowered from the floor to ceiling level for essential maintenance. In addition, the lighting rafts had to secure, lift and lower 4 stunning, centre-piece chandeliers within the library. Following consultation with Penny’s engineers, the school decided to proceed with 4 twin-rope, twin-winch systems supported by rafts mounted to the library ceiling which contained the winches to lift and lower the fans and chandeliers.The chandeliers connected to the winch ropes and each rope was able to sustain the full weight of the chandelier, which provides two means of support to the chandelier which is essential for safety reasons.

Each of the 4 systems comprised of a cable reel, pulleys and the lighting winch itself. A spring-operated cable reel was used to provide power to the chandelier. The reel releases cable as the fitting is lowered and then automatically retracts the cable when raised back up to high level. The system is operated by a motorised winch and pulleys are supplied to carry the wire rope along the desired rope runs. One operator sited at ground level can easily and quickly lower the chandeliers and fans for cleaning and maintenance without the need for ladders or expensive access equipment such as scaffolding, or a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP).

The winch system complies with best practice guidelines by eliminating the need to work from height and ensuring that the suspended loads have two means of support. The system is tested and certificated to Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER), ensuring it is fit for purpose and safe to operate.

“Traditional methods for cleaning and maintaining chandeliers and other items suspended at height such as ventilation systems, require specialist access equipment which can be costly and disruptive,” said Penny’s General Manager, Ed Penny. “By installing a mechanical handling system such as the dual-winch systems installed at Highgate School, this process becomes quick, cost-effective and hassle-free: allowing the school to keep the room freed-up for classes, important functions, and events throughout the year. The important dual benefit of increased safety is achieved by adding two means of support for the lighting.”

Penny Hydraulics lighting winch division offer manual, electric, remote controlled, interior and exterior winching systems for items such as lighting, menu-boards, artwork and speakers. A complete design package means that the company works closely with architects and structural engineers through the commissioning, manufacture, installation and maintenance stages of a project.

Penny Hydraulics own purpose-built premises houses a manufacturing and assembly plant where all the functions of a fully integrated company are carried out with design, manufacturing, installation, aftersales support and a nationwide service operation. With over 38 years’ experience, the company are the leading authority in this field and install and maintain lifting and lowering systems for chandeliers and other lighting installations in; museums, hotels, courts, theatres, stadiums, breweries, railways, retail premises, stately and private homes. Prestigious locations that house Penny systems include; Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, The Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Courts of Justice and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Do you have an interesting lifting project? Take a look at the animated film to see how a Penny lifting system could work for you! Alternatively contact the team to discuss the project further.

Subscribe to our mailing list