Up On The Roof, 24th February 2016


As I think back now, there are only really two places in the old Church High building I never got to visit: down in the Boiler Room and up on the roof.  Both were the domains of the ‘guys’.  I’m not so bothered about the former, but the latter remains a persistent niggle.  Why didn’t I think to ask to go ‘up on the roof’ to tick that box as I said my goodbyes in that sad but sunny summer of 2014?  Seeing the red brick ridge-tiles against the bright blue sky today as I photographed the roofers in action, that niggle returned once again.

The roofline architecture looks fantastic against the bright blue sky.
The striking gable-end roofline architecture looks fantastic against the bright blue sky.

I’ve already said there was 10 weeks’ work to do up on the roof.  Not surprising really.  There’s an awful lot of roof up there, of all sorts of shapes and sizes, as these aerial images from Google Earth show.

Google Earth shows the Church High roof in close-up from both the front and back.
Google Earth 3D aerial images showing the varied Church High roofline both from the front perspective and the back.

NCHS 3D aerial 6

For most folk, I guess the roof will always be synonymous with the Leavers’ Days when at about 6.00 am the Site Team would gamely hang out the traditional, lovingly-prepared banners.  The last guys to perform this ritual were Vince Milner & Craig Brauns in May 2014.

Vince and Craig 'up on the roof' on Year 11 Leavers' Day, May 2014.
Vince & Craig ‘up on the roof’ on Year 11 Leavers’ Day, 2014.

Roof Banner 2

Roof Banner 3

However, I know some folk will also have very different memories of the Church High roof.  On more than one occasion, I remember girls abseiling off it while fundraising for The Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Duke of Edinburgh Award Abseil, November 1998.
The D of E Award Abseil, November 1998.

In today’s Health & Safety age, the work underway at the moment seems to require protective fencing to be fitted all around the roof.  I assume this process has all been factored into the 10 weeks’ work.  A man in a blue cherry-picker I thought was doing pointing on the north face of the main building, I was told was fitting a safety fence.

There have been some fantastic machines on site!
This is how the roof safety fences were fitted.

The sections already fixed into place certainly provide passers-by below with a very different view of the familiar red-gabled roofline.

Safety fence now frames the front of the building: man framed in ICT Suite window.
The safety fencing already in place now frames the front of the building: workman framed in an empty ICT Suite window.

Although this wasn’t the main focus of activity there today, Wates workers were clearly up on the roof of the new-build structure too.

That safety fencing again and workers on the roof of the new-build too.
More safety fencing & workers on the roof of the new-build.

Bearing in mind I was only in the new-build the day before for the ‘Topping Out’ ceremony, I was curious to see how much change, if any, would be obvious in just 24 hours.  But with 80 men working on the site now, it wasn’t really a surprise that things had moved on.  It had been clear from inside the structure that black plastic sheeting was being rolled out across the floor.  Today, the gaps between the concrete-board offered glimpses of further activity going on within.

The concrete board pieces are quite dramatic up close.
The concrete boarding is dramatic up close.


Clear progress had been made on the ground floor of the new-build.  Where black plastic was being laid yesterday, wet cement was being applied and expertly levelled-out today.  From the floor of the north-side, it was now even possible to see where the machines of the new Fitness Suite are going to be positioned.  And the south-side, where the ‘Topping Out’ ceremony took place, was all now a sea of white.  ‘Time stands still for no man’ clearly.  What a difference a day makes.

The concrete floor of the new-build being levelled.
Wet concrete being levelled for the floor of the new-build.
On the north side, the floor of the Fitness Suite is now set.
On the north side, the floor of the Fitness Suite is now set.
Where yesterday's ceremony took place is now a sea of white.
Where yesterday’s ‘Topping Out’ ceremony took place, the floor is now a sea of white.
What a difference a day makes!
The clear evidence that ‘Time stands still for no man’.  What a difference a day makes!


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