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Shedding light on easy lifting: Montague Hotel choose Penny’s new Lightwell Lift

Shedding light on easy lifting: Montague Hotel choose Penny’s new Lightwell Lift


Visitors to London looking for a ‘quintessentially British’ experience need look no further than the Montague Hotel - in front is the British Museum and the hurly-burly of tourist London, whilst to the rear there's a serene private garden, cut off from the city by a rectangle of fine Georgian townhouses.

The well-loved four-star hotel boasts 88 luxury guest rooms, an intriguing blend of up- to-the-minute city vibrancy and old-world Bloomsbury charm, where guests can expect British hospitality at its finest. In fact, the hotel’s that good, that it consistently wins prestigious industry awards from the likes of Condé Nast, Trivago, and TripAdvisor.

From the building’s beginning as Montagu House owned by the Duke of Montagu, to more recent years when Red Carnation Hotels took the building over in 1996, the hotel has consistently been developed and re-modelled. Over recent years in particular, the hotel has undergone significant refurbishment. Forming an important part of these works was modernisation and upgrading of systems used by hotel operatives to handle food and drinks deliveries.

“Traditional methods used to transport boxes and crates up and down stairs from delivery at road level to the basement, cellar & kitchens was too reliant on manual lifting and carrying – potentially dangerous working practices, especially when handling goods up and down stairs.” Said General Manager of Penny Hydraulics Goods Lift Division, Jocelyn Cole.

Being the leading bespoke goods lift manufacturer in the UK, Penny Hydraulics has been manufacturing lifting equipment since 1978 and has grown to become the supplier of choice to the largest pub, hotel and restaurant chains in the UK. Knowing they would be in safe hands, the hotel contacted Penny’s specialist engineers to specify a bespoke lift to assist with their boxed and crated deliveries. With no available space for the lift inside the building, the task was to design and build a lift to be installed on the building’s exterior without making any structural changes to the building itself, or damaging the buildings aesthetics.

“As in all of central London’s boroughs, space is at a premium,” said Jocelyn. “In addition, many of the buildings date back hundreds of years and simply weren’t designed to accommodate modern day machinery. A significant number of these buildings have listed status too, meaning it’s not always possible to make changes to the interior and exterior structure or aesthetics- these factors can add an extra layer of complexity to goods lift projects and it’s not uncommon for some goods lift suppliers to even decline a project for these reasons.”

Typical goods lift designs take up valuable space within the building, or require significant internal structural works for installation, but this simply wasn’t feasible for the Montague Hotel as all internal space was already in use.

Following a free of charge and no-obligation site survey, it was down to Penny’s experienced engineers to work within the constraints of the building and land surrounding it to design a super compact lift to suit the application.

Many of the prestigious London buildings incorporate a lightwell within them – an unroofed external space left to provide light and air to what would be otherwise dark and unventilated areas such as cellars and basements. Lightwells are typically lined with glazed bricks to increase the reflection of sunlight within the space and enhance their light giving properties even further.

“Typically very narrow, lightwells probably aren’t the most obvious place for a mechanical handling system, but when space is really at a premium they can offer a perfect ready-made space to house a lift.” Said Jocelyn.

Using 40 years’ experience designing lifts, Penny’s engineers quickly developed a proposed lift design. Based on their popular CellarLift product - used for transporting beer barrels and drinks crates in and out of cellars, it wasn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel. Instead, small design amendments were made from the original lift design to ensure the lift fitted the lightwell exactly. Basing the lift on the CellarLift design offered two major benefits.

“The hotel were assured of a tried and tested well-loved design and secondly, design costs were kept to a bare minimum ensuring a competitively priced product.” Said Jocelyn.

Penny Hydraulics Goods Lift

Penny’s offered a fully UK based service – the lift was designed and manufactured at their purpose-build Derbyshire facility, with their Goods Lift team project managing the entire process.

Following rapid installation by Penny’s dedicated goods lift installation team, the lift is now in operation and it’s already helping the hotel handle deliveries more productively and safely thanks to reduced manual handling. In fact, the lift isn’t just suitable for food and drinks deliveries - it will provide use for other applications at the hotel too.

“The hydraulically powered lightwell lift is a compact, flexible and useful tool – it fits perfectly within the narrow lightwell space, easily handling food and drinks deliveries, laundry deliveries, office supplies, and even bins between the pavement and the basement.” Said Jocelyn.

Penny’s input didn’t finish following installation of the lift either – the lift will be regularly serviced by their nationwide network of service and maintenance engineers to ensure the lift continues to perform at its optimum level. In addition, regular Thorough Examinations in accordance with Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) will fulfil the hotel’s legal obligations - ensuring the lightwell lift remains safe to use throughout its life.

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