Five years after the first proposals were made for the launch of a £3.2m redevelopment project, the Charles Dickens Museum opened its doors in December 2012, just in time to celebrate a Dickensian Christmas in the novelist’s bicentenary year.

The complex Great Expectations project was designed to address the long-term needs of the Museum. The concept was to expand the museum into the adjacent No.49 Doughty Street property, creating two distinct areas. The original Dickens House, No.48 was to remain a traditional period museum experience whilst the new expansion was to contain a more modern functional visitor and learning centre.

Both properties required structural and strengthening restoration repairs to cope with increasing visitor numbers and to provide improved access to the museum making it a better experience for a wider range of people who want to learn about Dickens and Dickensian heritage.

Visitors are now able to tour the house where Dickens lived with his new wife and young family around the time that Queen Victoria ascended the throne. As well as Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, he finished writing The Pickwick Papers, while living at 48 Doughty Street!

Alterations to the ground floor in No 49 were made to accommodate the new platform lift, which has significantly improved step-free access to Dickens’s original house.

Axess 2 were approached Purcell UK, the team responsible for overseeing the project, to provide a low pit lift solution. After the initial consultation, it was agreed that the most suitable lift would be the Rafael, the 500kg rated hydraulic platform lift.

The machinery directive lift was to service 4 floors of the Museum, providing access to both the new visitor centre and the existing museum.

A DDA compliant 1100x1400mm lift cabin was used, finished in a modern durable steel skin plate material. A half wall mirror, stainless steel hand rail, chrome low voltage spot lights and a LCD display with voice announcer added to the contemporary look and feel. At each of the four landings was a 900mm wide hinged steel door finished in white to compliment the surrounding decor. LCD display screens located next to each lift landing door were used to inform the user of the direction and location of the lift.

The lift is constantly in use and has proved to be a real asset to the museum, as well as meeting DDA standards and complying with the Machinery Directive.

Axess 2 are very proud to have been part of the Great Expectation project.