Disabled visitors to Palmers Department Store in Dereham, Norfolk have, quite literally, been given a lift. Wheelchair users, families with pushchairs and other less mobile people can now easily visit the stores' three sales floors, following the installation of a movemanSKG Companion Prestige platform lift.
Palmers opened as a small drapery store on Great Yarmouth market 165 years ago. Today, with six department stores in several of East Anglia's largest towns, the company employs over four hundred staff and is one of the largest independent retailers in the region. Dereham is typical of the market towns in the area. It is a busy and bustling place with many shops both in the market square and in the adjoining streets. Palmers Department store, conveniently located on Norwich Road, is just one of several imposing landmarks in the town. St Nicholas Church has a history going back to 654 AD, whilst spanning the road high above High Street is probably the largest town sign in East Anglia.
The Prestige platform lift is the perfect answer to the store's access problems. To comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, Palmers needed to install a lift as an alternative to the stairs linking the lower ground, ground and upper sales floors. A traditional platform lift installation was not practical as it would have required costly renovations and taken up valuable selling space. The Prestige fits neatly into the stairwell, needs no additional supporting structure and is floor mounted. Building work was kept to a minimum and the store could continue to trade, even while the lift was being installed.
Sue Mendham, the Store Manager is extremely pleased with the end result. "The new movemanSKG lift opens up the whole store to a lot more people. One lady who has been visiting the store for years with her disabled husband had never been upstairs before." She comments. "The look on her face when the lift arrived and took them to the upper floor for the first time, was like a child's in a toy shop. Parents with young families will also benefit."
The Prestige can travel up to three storeys and has a carrying capacity of 400kg. Its 1500 x1100mm platform means that there is sufficient space for a wheelchair user and attendant. It is supplied as a totally self-contained with its own enclosure. This prevents anybody or anything becoming trapped under or falling off the platform. The enclosure is fabricated from steel and/or glass panels and requires no additional support structure. Alternative door styles and entrance arrangements are available with automatic power opening an option. This means that the lift can be manufactured to a customer's individual specification.
Landing doors incorporate self closers for ease of use. Control buttons are tactile, which makes it easier for those with sensory impairments to summon and direct the platform. The lift will not operate unless constant pressure is applied to the up or down button. This ensures that the lift cannot travel until the occupant is ready.
"The way the movemanSKG team worked was exemplary." Enthuses Sue Mendham. "The lift is located in a busy spot. The engineers caused a minimum of disruption and were always exceedingly courteous to our inquisitive customers."