Horsham engineer reflects on 40 years in power

One of the country’s top electricity distribution engineers has marked his 40th year in the industry
Barry Hatton director of asset management with chief executive, Basil Scarsella

Barry Hatton, 63, director of asset management at UK Power Networks, has now joined the company’s ‘40-plus club’. The firm recognises employees who have given four decades of continuous service in roles which keep power flowing to 19 million people.

He joined Seeboard in 1981 as a graduate engineer trainee, drawn to the industry by his father’s work as a tower line engineer. Barry progressed to become a highly respected engineer, playing a leading role in the organisation which keeps electricity flowing to homes, businesses, schools and hospitals across the South East, London and East of England.

Barry, from Horsham, said: “The electricity industry plays such a key role in people’s lives. It’s great to be part of this invisible service that helps to keep the country going.

“The industry is moving into a really important phase. There will be greater reliance on electricity to power our cars and heat our homes, so we will have an even more important role to play in people’s lives in future to achieve net zero, by decarbonising transport and heat.

“We have such a professional workforce, well-established training programmes for apprentices and engineers, and a deep level of knowledge. Their skill and expertise make it enjoyable to work among people who are highly competent and want to do the right thing. 

“As an engineer the whole power system is a fascinating piece of infrastructure that continues to innovate, and I am always learning something new because there are always new challenges.” 

Barry’s career started at head office in the engineering standards team before taking on roles in construction on 33,000-volt circuit breaker changes and 132,000-volt telecontrol. He also worked in commissioning, protection, project design and maintenance roles on the high voltage network.

In addition to overseeing major investment programmes across the company’s three regions, his projects have included power supplies for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, connecting Shoreham Power Station in 2000, and keeping power flowing to the London 2012 Olympic Games. He became capital programme director from 2005 and asset management director in 2011, planning maintenance and investment across the network’s vast infrastructure.

Memorable jobs locally have included the team’s response to the aftermath of the hurricane in 1987 and storms and flooding in 2000, which flooded the depot in Crawley and led to a temporary move above Gamleys toy shop in the town. He also recalls the foot-and-mouth epidemic in 2001 when the team had to stop all work in the countryside, then catch up on refurbishment of 400km of overhead line in record time.

Barry said: “Despite all these challenges people were still positive. It showed the real grit of our workforce that they were able to deal with all of that and keep things going. These were challenging moments but at the same time they showed the best characteristics of our people and our organisation when we are under pressure.”

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, said: “We take this opportunity to recognise the commitment and dedication of our longest-serving employees, who have served their local communities for decades. The last 18 months have been an unprecedented time and I am grateful to all our staff for their key role in keeping power flowing and enabling people to go about their daily lives, while preparing the networks for an exciting low carbon future.”

The company has 464 employees with over 40 years’ service. A total of 43 staff across the South East, London and East of England reached their 40th or 50th milestone last year.

In addition to career development for existing staff, UK Power Networks continues to run apprenticeships, including 21 new apprentices who joined the business in September.

 

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