Howard Electrical - powering projects with electricity
Howard is a specialist provider of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; electricity; and related testing and inspection services. Customers range from large and complex national organisations that are looking for a holistic approach to their electrical and mechanical requirements, to regional businesses seeking short-term solutions. Howard, a family business, was established in 1984; they are owned and directed by Peter and Richard Howard, who founded the company alongside their brother and father.
Unit 5 Faygate Business Centre
Faygate, West Sussex
The Show Must Go On
Delfont Mackintosh Theatres employed Howard Electrical Ltd. to upgrade electricity supply from a new UK Power Networks (UKPN) substation at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, London, currently the home of world-famous musical Les Misérables.
Howard accepted a scope of work to install a new power supply to the front of house (FOH) and rear of house (ROH) electrical intake rooms from the UKPN transformer chamber. The principle driving forces of an ongoing, full-scale overhaul at the site are ageing infrastructure, larger productions, and additional building services plant.
Importantly, Howard was tasked with upgrade of new supply from 400A TP-N to 630A, fed from the substation at basement level, whilst maintaining electrical services to the stage during performances, when required. Not a single show cancellation was required during completion of the works, which included installation of a 400A TP-N LV switchboard and migration of outgoing circuits onto the new system.
The installation provides adequate supply capacity for production as well as a new dimmer switchboard serving state-of-the-art electronic dimmers. New Eaton MEM switchgear, busbar chambers, and custom-built energy metering panels, together with new sub-main cables, enable safe isolation of the main supply as well as the sub-main system below stage level.
Francois Duncker, theatre asset manager at Delfont Mackintosh, which owns eight London theatres, said: “Howard was selected for the project via tender, but we have prior experience of their knowledge, experience, understanding of clients’ needs, and ability to overcome problems. We have been very impressed with the service; they are among the top contractors to work with. Howard stands out as a mechanical and engineering specialist that can tailor expertise to the unique requirements of ageing infrastructure and historical, listed buildings.”
Richard Howard, director at Howard Electrical, highlighted installation of new main cables as a standout feature of the project. He said: “We had to install them in parallel with the existing cables throughout the sub stage level of the theatre—from the substation to the switchroom. This element of the works was particularly difficult considering the importance that the ‘show must go on’, meaning any power outage was not an option.”
Once all new electrical systems were installed and tested, an overnight / Sunday shutdown was planned in accordance with UKPN, Howard, and the theatre’s management to enable the safe transfer of supplies onto the new switchgear. The installation serves as future-proofed electrical infrastructure, fit for the next phase of the theatre’s illustrious history, according to Richard Howard.
Duncker, who oversees all fixed assets and building maintenance at the company’s theatres and two office blocks, concluded: “Productions vary in size and having the capability and availability to accommodate various load requirements makes us stand out as a venue. Advancements in lighting, sound, and automation technology together with providing a comfortable environment, such as air-conditioning in the auditorium, will put strain on any building and energy demand.”
Howard is a specialist provider of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment, electricity, and other services.
Caption: The rear of house main intake switchgear.
Caption: The Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, London is currently the home of world-famous musical Les Misérables.