When the Royal Opera House reopens this month with Verdi’s Falstaff, a £1m Hedley Hydraulics installation should make life easier for the stage managers. Full sets can now be moved into the main stage and rehearsal areas without being dismantled. The control system consists of hydraulics, pump house and elevator control systems, and is expected to halve set change-over times. Sets built on 27 wagons are moved around the theatre by 38 hydraulic compensating elevators.
Each wagon is electrically driven by a toothed belt and drive cassette which is engaged by lowering the elevators on which the wagon is mounted.
The control system is maintained in a pressurised state using sensors which automatically fire-up pumps and motors, and beneath the auditorium, in a labyrinthine network of tunnels reminiscent of Gaston Leroux’ Phantom of the Opera, sits the pump room. Four 37Kw six pole motors driving Parker Hannifin tandem PAVC100 axial piston pumps and pump loading and control manifolds are mounted in an acoustically lined cell which is essentially a separate building. Each pump set is mounted on an inertia base, and flexible hoses replace mechanical components.