March 2nd is the 61st day of the year (or the 62nd of this one since we are in a leap year). From this point, there are 304 days remaining before we reach the end of the year and, by my calculations, 163 days until the Tankerville site renovation is due to be completed. According to Wikipedia, March 2nd is a propitious day for technological invention: in 1791, long-distance communication speeded up with the unveiling of a semaphore machine in Paris; in 1949, the first automatic street light was installed in New Milford, Connecticut; and in1983 compact discs and players were released for the first time in the United States and other markets. So there you go! And in 2016, our project is moving forward well on all three fronts too.
The renovation work on the Church High old building has now moved on to the Boiler Room beneath the old Dining Hall. For a while, I had thought activity in this area of the building was owing to the fact there were problems with the foundations (Heaven forbid!). However, a conversation with Eddie, Site Supervisor, today made things a lot clearer. The excavation is for under-pinning work, but only because a new concrete staircase down to the Boiler Room is due to be installed. Because of this, the wall needs strengthening.
The new build construction work in the old Junior School grounds is also moving on apace now. Little has changed on the outside; the lengths of concrete-board cladding still boast striking red stripes.
However, once inside the gate and moving towards the structure, tantalising glimpses of changes to the interior became visible through the spaces between the cladding where windows are to go.
The metal ‘doughnuts’, as they are now called on site, are certainly a distinctive modern architectural feature of the new build design. As far as I can discern, they are intended to be visible through the glass. In this particular area of the building, they seem to be marking the site of an internal flight of stairs now in the process of being fitted.
From the plans, I seem to remember toilets are to be sited on the stairwells in the new building. The doorways are now all in place.
At ground level, the new building is yet to be partitioned off into individual spaces. As when they took walls down in the old building, the guys must be working from the top floor downwards. Surveying the ground floor from where the main entrance will eventually be, to the left, only a week further on, the beam which was the focus of the Topping Out ceremony is already being absorbed into the structure.
The lack of dividing walls at present is not the only reason why the ground floor appears to be such an airy space at the moment. The lack of concrete-board cladding on the south side and back of the building now makes it clear there is going to be a lot of glass here.
I left Tankerville this lunchtime to return to Eskdale feeling there was a great deal of progress to report today, which was pleasing. However, at the end of the school day when I left NHSG heading for Jesmond Metro, I wasn’t expecting a further strand of the narrative of March 2nd 2016 to have quietly unfolded while I was teaching. Outside of Hiley House, a blue and white ‘For Sale’ sign had gone up.
The following day it became clear a sign had been erected in front of all four of the old Central High buildings deemed to be redundant once NHSG moved to its permanent home on Tankerville Terrace.
The signs outside of Hiley House, Russell House and Eslington Tower opposite Jesmond Metro station were identical. Only the sign placed in front of the Main School Building displayed the full story: ‘FOR SALE: Due to Relocation of Newcastle High School for Girls.’