We had a face to face visit with the building team from ASH recently and were introduced to their guys who’ll be on site throughout the project.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you get a quote saying something will take 10 days – you can pretty much add on a few weeks and this job is no exception. There are a number of influencing factors, but the real issue revolves around the lead time needed for special galvanised steel to replace the rusty beam, so the work will take a bit longer than we would have hoped.
Currently the programme of works looks like this:
PHASE 1 – Commencing 1 August, approx 2 weeks – The pavement outside the Old Fire Station will be hoarded and the pavement lights (the glass tiles) removed carefully. The old Russ T will be measured so that we order an accurate replacement galvanised steel beam. The pavement will be wide enough for a wheelchair to pass by, and will not impact entry or emergency exits of the theatre. It will be secure and waterproof so nothing will leak into the cellar. At the same time, the team will start the renovation works on the Tower.
This phase means all the stuff that normally happens in the back room of the bar – can’t! There will be no water in the cellar part of the bar and the ice machine and dishwasher that sit directly under old Russ T will be temporarily removed to ensure they’re not damaged and to allow full access to the builders. We’re also taking the opportunity to improve the air cooling in the cellar part of the bar, and add a ventilation grill to the door to the cellar.
Bar Comm is working hard to ensure they have pop-up or temporary spaces to serve you during the Shorts and beyond – thanks to Adam Crook and his team, and Graham Clements who has been the Bar Comm rep on our sub-group. They will give you a full update on how the bar will operate once they have run the logistics.
PHASE 2 – approx 2 weeks. This involves us having to ensure the building stays standing (kind of important!) by installing temporary propping as we prepare to take the old steel out. There are 3 mini windows that are part of the original features of the building and therefore listed. We will need to have the sills removed as we prop the building up via the Watch Room. They are at the front of the building, so we have to remove the radiator in the Watch Room and the props will run across the entrance to it, which means that during this phase of works we can’t use that room.
PHASE 3 – Comprises steel replacement, pavement light hole filled, Watch Room window sills and cellar equipment reinstated.
The main issue with the works is that there is currently a 2-week wait for steel. We therefore anticipate the works with no contingency will finish mid-September, but we’re erring on the side of caution and proposing business as usual will not return until October.
Gareth Milton is going to be the weekly point of contact for the on-site team and he will report back to the sub-group. His awesome Prince 2 project management skills will be much needed, and we figured we want the builders to be building rather than answering a long stream of questions from all of us. So, if you have anything you’re concerned about regarding the build, please ask me firstname.lastname@example.org or Gareth email@example.com for clarity. Bex Law will be the main point of contact for external hires.
I have just done an application for some additional funding to support the works. We do currently have this phase fully funded, but we are bracing ourselves for additional costs due to the unprecedented rise in materials and labour costs. So keep your fingers crossed that the funding foundation shows us some love and give us a few more bob!
Thanks all for your patience, and we hope to get the old girl a bit more shipshape by the autumn. It will all be worth it!
Chair, Building Preservation Trust