The Royal Opera House - Access Gantry

As part of a £214 million, three year restoration and modernisation programme on The Royal Opera House, SCX Special Projects designed, manufactured and installed an overhead gantry system for changing heavy cloth backdrop scenery and undertaking stage lighting work.

The restoration saw an entirely dismantled and reconstructed 19th century auditorium, seemingly identical to the original design, with better sight lines, new seats, wheelchair access and air conditioning, but it was the new backstage facilities that were the biggest part of the project.

Prior to the refurbishment, scenery work was undertaken by a large group of people, working on a cramped and often cluttered stage.  SCX Special Projects installed a bespoke gantry system that provides The Royal Opera House with a far safer, more flexible solution to all its unique mechanical handling problems. The new system requires less manpower and greatly enhances the operational efficiency of stage management.

Access gantry inside the Royal Opera House

The gantry weighs 36 tonnes, has a span of 28m, and travels at a speed of up to 18m/min.

A self-correcting track alignment system, where the end carriages are fitted with multiple wheels across their full breadth, provides total stability as the gantry crosses a 750mm gap in the track. This gap allows for an acoustic door, separating the performance stage from the rear stage, to be slid in.

Mobile access platform and main gantry inside the Royal Opera House

The traversing, hydraulically-controlled, mobile access platform is fitted below one of the structural beams. This allows two operators to travel 12m ahead of the main gantry and extend 5m above or 13m below the gantry, to access scenery and undertake work on the entire stage lighting system with relative ease and in absolute safety.

6m wide work platform of the Royal Opera House's access gantry

The gantry system has a pay load capacity of 20 tonnes, and incorporates a 6m wide work platform across the span, providing a work surface area of 151sqm for up to twelve stage technicians and all the backdrop scenery, equipment and tools. The entire structure can be controlled either on board or remotely from the stage.

Automatic safety gate for access to the Royal Opera House work platform

Twelve access points, each fitted with automatic safety gate systems, allow access on and off the work platform and also onto the mobile access platform.

Six 1 tonne chain hoists mounted to the underside of the gantry in two banks of three, for lifting and transporting heavy sections of scenery, can either be operated independently or in unison.


SCX Special Projects Ltd
Roman Ridge Road,
Sheffield, S9 1GA
Tel: +44 (0)114 262 6199