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Safe Cellar & Barrel Handling for Fuller’s

Safe Cellar & Barrel Handling for Fuller’s

With its commitment to quality, service and pride, Fuller’s has always aimed for the highest standards across its brewery and pub business. The historic brewery has been installing Cellar Lifts from Penny Hydraulics for over 20 years in any pub where barrels are handled between floors. The relationship between the two companies has been reinforced in 2016 when Fuller’s has again specified Penny Hydraulics equipment at its latest 8 developments.

“Fuller’s is a traditional family brewer which has extremely high standards,” says Tony Hogan, the Estates Department’s project manager at Fuller’s. “We have specified the Penny Hydraulics Cellar Lift for so many years because it helps us promote best practice and health and safety in our dray and cellar operations. The product is very reliable and Penny Hydraulics provides us with advice and support that ensures the equipment continues to provide an excellent solution to our requirements.”

Operating from the historic Griffin Brewery site in Chiswick, Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C. (more commonly known as Fuller’s) is an independent family brewer and pub company whose brands include the world-famous ESB and London Pride, the UK’s best-selling premium cask ale. Beer has been brewed at the Chiswick site for over 350 years. Fuller’s traditional heartland has always been London and the South of England. Today Fuller’s has an estate of around 400 pubs and hotels, split between Managed and Tenanted houses.

Fuller’s originally introduced mechanical cellar hoists to provide assistance to dray teams delivering barrels to its pubs. From the start it selected the Penny Hydraulics Cellar Lift to eliminate the need to handle barrels from the delivery point - usually the pavement door flaps - down to the cellar by hand. This promoted health and safety but also allowed Fuller’s to reduce the size of certain dray teams from three to two people.

Cellar Lifts were subsequently installed in all of the pubs where barrels, crates and other drinks related items are handled between two levels, typically a cellar and ground-floor bar, as part of the company’s ongoing retrofit and refurbishment programmes. The delivery of the first Cellar Lifts coincided with a period of expansion at Fuller’s, which saw it build its estate by acquiring successful pubs and converting premises such as former banks. Many of the banks had cellars and the company installed a Cellar Lift in each of these as part of the development.

As the estate owner Fuller’s is responsible for providing appropriate fittings and equipment for its pub managers and tenants. Since 1994 the responsibility for overseeing the specification, installation and maintenance of the Cellar Lifts has fallen to Tony Hogan, the company’s project manager. Fuller’s are still installing new Cellar Lifts every year, and currently have just under 200 in total.

“It is a matter of policy at Fuller’s to install Cellar Lifts in all pubs that require handling between two levels, which usually means the basement and ground floor,” explains Tony Hogan. “When we’ve bought pubs with no provision we immediately look to install a Cellar Lift.”

The latest installations have been at The Gun in Docklands, The Queen’s Head in Kingston and The Lord Northbrook in Lee, South London, as well as The William Walker in Winchester and The Stable Bar and Grill in Bournemouth. The process that leads to the installation of a Cellar Lift illustrates how Fuller’s and Penny Hydraulics work together to ensure the right equipment is used at each pub. When Fuller’s identifies the need for a Cellar Lift it appoints a designer who liaises with its internal estates and retail teams to discuss the overall requirements. A key consideration is to ensure that access is easy and convenient for the draymen. The company’s distribution team - responsible for draymen and deliveries - visits the site to complete a risk assessment which includes identifying suitable access. The estates team then takes charge of the installation. When considering how deliveries will be made they always aim to make handling runs as short as possible. In most London pubs the delivery is mainly made through street flaps.

The Penny Hydraulics Cellar Lift can be installed in virtually any basement or first floor cellar to provide an effective solution for lifting all types of barrel or drink related products. The range includes vertical, sloping and compact designs that combine low cost of ownership with efficient, reliable and safe operation in any application. The most common configuration of the Cellar Lift is the vertical unit that can raise and lower any barrel weighing up to 300kg, equivalent to a full 54 gallons, or a double stack of crates whilst occupying the minimum of cellar space. The sloping cellar lift has the same performance and is designed for applications where a vertical lift is not practical, for example where cellar access is awkward or where a concrete skid is present. The sloping lift can be installed at any inclination from vertical to horizontal which means it can be fitted almost anywhere. Each Cellar Lift is based on the same basic design although Penny Hydraulics matches every installation to the specific site requirements. “We prefer a vertical solution when possible because it’s the shortest and cheapest option and most readily understood but if we have to provide a sloping lift then it’s no problem,” says Tony Hogan.

Once the overall concept is agreed, Penny Hydraulics provides a budget estimate and undertakes preliminary surveys to identify the most appropriate configuration of the Cellar Lift and highlight any potential health and safety issues related to cellar handling. This includes taking detailed measurements on site and providing information for use by builders and contractors such as the size of any apertures required and the electrical services that must be installed. An installation date is agreed with contractors and once the equipment is in place it is commissioned by Penny Hydraulics and readied for use. “The process works well and there have been virtually no problems to date,” says Tony Hogan. “We are driven by a performance brief of getting barrels from A to B. We look to Penny Hydraulics for solutions and advice on the latest health and safety regulations.”

Fuller’s recognises the need to provide training to its staff and has incorporated instruction on the operation and use of the Cellar Lift into its in-house Master Cellarman courses. This ensures that all of its tenants and managers are certified to use the Cellar Lift. “It’s simple to operate and easy for us to instruct and train managers how to use,” says Tony Hogan. “The Cellar Lift is very reliable assuming you carry out routine maintenance like we do. We have a formal service and planned maintenance contract with Penny Hydraulics, which ensures all the equipment is checked regularly or fixed quickly if there is a problem, which is extremely rarely. The Cellar Lift is fundamental to the business because if we cannot deliver we cannot sell beer and make a profit.”

With the latest eight lifts already installed, three further lift installations are upcoming, including The Three Guineas in Reading, The Half Moon in Herne Hill and The King’s Head in Earl’s Court.

Award winning Penny Hydraulics ( is a leading UK manufacturer of lifting equipment with purpose built premises housing a manufacturing and assembly plant. The company carry out all the functions of a fully integrated company with design, manufacturing, quality control, aftersales support and nationwide service operation. Penny Hydraulics has grown to become the UK's leading lorry-loader crane, goods lift and lighting winch manufacturer for premises from Buckingham Palace to the Guinness factory in Nigeria. Operating in over 22 countries worldwide, the company also provide specialist design and manufacturing services to the nuclear decommissioning, mining and tyre handling industries. Typically a customer will be a large 'blue chip' organisation such as BT, Royal Mail, JD Wetherpoons or a Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant with a specific handling problem.

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