Walking down Tankerville Terrace this week, even from a distance it was evident to all that old Church High building was slowly coming back to life again after its long period of enforced hibernation.
The most obvious change to meet the eyes of regular passers-by was the sight of two of the dormer windows of the old building’s top corridor flung wide open to the air. The sound of loud echoing banging noises emanating from within left it in no doubt that the internal strip-out of fixtures and fittings was now underway.
Presumably to aid this work, what appeared to be a rubbish chute positioned underneath one of the windows of Room 7, a former Mathematics classroom at the end of the main corridor, was in the process of being constructed by a team of scaffolding contractors.
Even before one arrived at the gates of the old Junior School grounds, the sound of heavy machinery in action made it clear that excavation work on the new build foundations was now in full swing.
Construction work on the foundations of the new build on the former Junior School site finally got underway at the start of September. My first visit with my camera was on September 11th, a warm and sunny Wednesday lunchtime when, even with the construction fence surrounding it, the old Church High building still looked very beautiful and leafy green against a clear blue sky.
The fencing around the former Junior School grounds now displayed the Wates’ construction site signage instead of Tolents’ and through the open gates I could clearly see and hear that the construction work on the new building’s foundations was already well underway.
The ground had already been levelled and a section of the densely-planted, hilly embankment which used to stand behind the Junior School soft surfaced play area had been sliced away and a line of retaining steelwork was in the process of being put into place.
One year after the merger took place, plans were finally unveiled for the new £11m building to be constructed on the Tankerville site.
The building project planned will involve the remodelling of the iconic Victorian Church High main building as well as a new extension designed by architects Ellis Williams to include a multi-purpose assembly hall, dining room, fitness suite, state-of-the-art science labs and additional classroom spaces, all to be constructed on the footprint of the old Church High Junior School.
The project, led by Wates Construction, also includes the preservation of the existing trees and landscaping of the whole site. The work is due to get under way this month, with completion scheduled for summer 2016.
In late August, just prior to the start of Newcastle High School for Girls’ second year still housed in the old Central High buildings, Wates Construction, having recently been awarded the contract for the NHSG new build, took possession of the old Church High site on Tankerville Terrace. The Project Manager is Nick White, formerly of Shepherd Construction who I met for the first time on 21st August.
A site office was immediately established in leafy Westward House, previously the home of Church High School’s School of Music.
Work started immediately on securing the site by erecting tall wooden hoardings along the whole length of the main building.
It has to be said, however, that if the beautiful Victorian frontage must be partly-obscured from view until the building work is completed in Summer 2016, then it is just as well that the Wates’ brand colours of lime-green and teal- blue are the NHSG colours too!