I didn’t know it at the time, but Wednesday 18th May was to be the last time I was allowed access to the Tankerville site by School. Don’t worry, this change of circumstances didn’t hinder the blog in the end, though I admit to being a bit worried there for a while. It was already evident that day that work within the old building had stepped up a notch and that through my camera lens I was starting to see more of the building as it would soon be rather than as it was. My Wates’ guide for this last tour was the ever helpful Conal Stamp.
It’s strange reporting back on this stage in the build now bearing in mind I unpacked my crates in the building on Tuesday 28th August and have already had two Staff Study Days on the Tankerville site. Admittedly, we are still in the company of a lot of my Wates friends, but we are in there nonetheless! And it feels so great to be back too. As with previous site tours, I will guide you through the main progress points floor by floor and end each post with a slideshow.
The most memorable part of this tour for me was being able to walk into the main building through the green front door once again. This was how I had ended up talking to the man who was cutting back the ivy. Through the doorway, the emphasis on wiring and piping work was clear and I got a first-hand feel of the opened up reception area.
As I have already said, the new LRC will be a much smaller room. The mezzanine levels have been removed and it’s now possible to walk through this space into the back courtyard without having to negotiate any stairs. A lot of character has been lost in the process in my opinion, but disabled access will be easier. I was able to walk straight though myself that day as Wates’ Peter Bell and a colleague were busy working on the brickwork surround of the big back door.
Inside the Science Block, things were also starting to look very different. The end Chemistry Lab was now being used as a sort of workshop and the Chemistry Prep Room was well on the way to becoming the new Head of Year Office, soon to be my future home.
Toilet facilities for the girls are still in the same place, by the main building side entrance, but the layout has changed. There are fewer cubicles, all facing east and a disabled toilet fills the remaining space.
When you revisit the old building, one of the things you will find most strange is that the Large and Small Dining Halls have been divided up into lots of smaller office spaces. This area is darker now.
At the north end of the bottom corridor, a weird hole seemed to have appeared. It took a while to realise I was actually looking down into the Boiler Room. I remarked to Conal that, other than the roof, this was the only area of the building I had never visited and, much to my delight, he said it was now possible for him to take me there. The old boiler had been removed by then, the floor re-laid and walls newly white-washed. New equipment was already being installed.
To get to the Boiler Room, Conal had taken me out of the building through the new side door – previously the top part of the bin-store. Above our heads ran a complex network of insulated heating pipes.
My final port-of-call on the Ground Floor that day was to the new infill extension. This is the view from the NHSG Headmistress’ Office.