Transforming Westminster Abbey

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A careful operation to lift a three-and-a-half-tonne redundant transformer by crane across the front of Westminster Abbey took place on Wednesday 18 August.

EDF Energy Networks moved the transformer from its site under the floor of College Hall, the medieval dining room in the Deanery Courtyard at Westminster Abbey. A new substation to replace the existing one was installed around the corner underground in Dean's Yard earlier this year.

The investment will see an upgrade to the equipment that provides power to many properties in that area of London and will also increase the reliability of supplies.

Early on Wednesday morning the crane lifted the transformer measuring 6ft square, and other associated electrical equipment. At its highest point, the equipment was lifted 35 feet over the front of the Abbey. Then lifted onto a flat-bed lorry and taken away.

Westminster Abbey asked EDF Energy Networks to move the substation, which had been there since the 1960s.

EDF Energy Networks project manager Gary Drinkeld said: "This was a complex project given the historic nature of the site. The substation played a vital part in the distribution of electricity to many properties in that area of London and we have a responsibility to our many customers to find a suitable site nearby so we can continue to provide a reliable electricity supply for customers in the area. We are working closely with Westminster Abbey to make sure the move runs smoothly and successfully."

The Abbey is one of the more unusual sites to house one of EDF Energy Network's 66,000 substations and is possibly the only one which has an ancient arched doorway leading to it.