Harrods was the first UK store to install what?
Harrods debuted the UK’s first escalator – a woven-leather conveyor belt, with a mahogany and silver, plate-glass balustrade – in 1898. To calm their nerves after the experience, customers were offered a stiff drink at the top. More than a century later, Harrods has kept up the tradition of bringing innovation to its store. ‘Charles Henry Harrod did something that had never been seen before – and that has stayed with the brand over the decades,’ says Allcock. ‘In creating the grand entrance, it was important to make the best possible first impression.’
This meant changing the positions of the up and down escalators to create a more expansive space and ensure better vision for customers entering the store. The ground-floor escalator – which was cantilevered off a newly constructed column – now appears to be floating, allowing views into the lower-ground floor. Inverter drives have been fitted so the speed of the escalators may be reduced when they have no passengers.
The biggest challenge during construction was actually installing the escalators, which had to be carried in manually at ground-floor level and winched up inside. At night during a four-week period, the escalators – the largest of which weighed five tonnes – were delivered, craned off the lorry, wheeled along the pavement and craned into the hall, before being winched up into position.