New Building Steel Frame Is Now Complete: Thompsons Leave Old Building & Work Begins, 9th December 2015


Arriving at the site gates today, the structure had a different feel somehow.  It wasn’t just the break in the clouds, it looked complete.  And so it proved when I talked to Peter once inside the compound.  The last corner of the steel frame, where the entrance to the new building will be, was now all intact.  It looked huge from the ground.

The last corner where the entrance will be is now complete.
The last corner where the entrance will be is now complete.

All that was now left to do at ground level was to finish off the final section of concrete flooring, the rest having been laid last week.

Under the structure, the last bit of floor still needs to be laid.
Under the structure, the last bit of floor still needs to be laid.

I also learned from Peter that Thompsons, the demolition and dismantling contractor, had finally left the old building.  This meant that ‘construction’ work was now able to progress inside.  Luckily for me, one of the very kind and helpful Wates’ workmen offered to take my camera into the building again, only for a short while, but long enough to show how the work was progressing on the ground floor.  It’s safe to say that his offer, an early Christmas gift, ‘made my day’.

A few weeks ago, one of the Thompsons’ workers had told me I would still be able to find my way fairly easily around the old building.  Most rooms, even if their usage was changing, remained in the same places, he said; it would be largely a case of some doorways and windows not being where they used to be and others being opened up elsewhere.  The first picture taken showed this to be true.

Newly blocked up doorways in the kitchen/ Dining Hall area

As he walked into the old building across the new extension foundations, the next shot the worker took shows the old Large and Small Dining Rooms with plaster stripped right back to the brickwork.

Looking towards the Large and Small Dining Rooms from the kitchen area.
The old Large & Small Dining Rooms from the kitchen area.

The scaffolding working tower just visible at the centre of the previous picture is being used by two workmen in the process of affixing new plasterboard to the ceiling of the Large Dining Hall.

Plasterboard is now being nailed to the ceilings.
Plasterboard now being nailed to the ceilings of both rooms.

The next image the worker took for me, of the Entrance Hallway looking towards the Main Door, was obviously taken from in front of the Learning Resources Centre.  Once again this area has all been stripped back to the brick and rafters; the grey breeze blocks to the right indicate where the door to the Meeting Room used to be.  The wood and glass Entrance Lobby doors, which were operated by a touchpad door-code system, have now both clearly been removed.  It was a joy to see the semi-circular window-light still in situ though.

Main entrance hallway looking towards the front door.
Entrance Hall looking towards front door.

The workman, on his way towards the front door, had clearly turned to his left and photographed what would until recently have been every visitor’s point-of-view when they entered the old building: Reception to their right with the Senior School Office behind it.  In this shot, the doorway into the Head Mistress’ Office can also be seen, with its doorway out onto the bottom corridor to the left of it.

Looking through Reception into the old School Office and the Headmistress' Office beyond that.
From the hallway looking towards Reception into the old Senior School Office and Headmistress’ Office beyond that.

The workman had then clearly gone through the open front door and turned back towards the LRC.  In this shot it is possible to see through to where a window has been temporarily removed to allow site access via the rear courtyard to this inner area of the building.

Main Front Door looking towards the LRC.
Main Front Door looking towards the LRC.

As we know, the biggest changes within the old building will be in the LRC.  A decision has been made to raise the floor so that the room will be all the same level when the building becomes NHSG.  In order for this to happen, concrete columns are in the process of being created in order to support the newly-raised flooring.  The idea is to create a light, clear view from new Reception right through to the courtyard beyond, but I will still miss the dynamic sense of energy that the mezzanine levels and sweeping staircases created.

Central view of LRC onto the back courtyard.
Centre view of the LRC onto back courtyard.

The LRC, of course, once used to be the old School Gymnasium, the first purpose-built gymnasium in the city indeed.  Old Girls and ex-staff will remember there was a raised platform at one end of the room and one had to descend a small flight of stairs to enter it whichever doorway you used.  The doorway leading out onto the Science corridor and locker rooms used to have a yellow curtain across it to keep out draughts.  Countless girls doing exams in that space will remember hearing the clinking noise of the brass curtain rings as it was pulled aside by invigilating staff as they entered and left the room at the end of each session.  In the present renovation process, now that the glass-fronted Careers Room has been dismantled, this doorway has once again been opened up.  It seems  that in the new LRC this old doorway may have a new life as a window.

LRC in the process of reconstruction looking left where the Careers Room used to be.
The LRC under reconstruction looking to the left where the  glass-fronted Careers Room used to be.  An old doorway has been opened up again and will now bring light to the room.
The Old Gymnasium at the time of its dismantling in 1997 to make way fro the LRC.
The Old Gymn being dismantled in 1997 prior to the LRC.
LRC looking right with the new Technology Wing visible behind it.
LRC looking right with the new Technology Wing beyond it.

My worker was now making his way back out of the building again, taking a fascinating shot before he left it from the Dining Hall area looking out across the foundations of the new extension; this area until very recently used to be a single-storey kitchen space.  The area of the building visible beyond used to be the kitchen storage and refrigeration areas; this will become the new ICT Room.

Looking from the old Dining Hall out towards the new extension.
From the Dining Hall looking out onto the new extension.

The final shot, taken from the very back of the new extension foundations, shows how the two buildings, old and new, will closely align.

View of the new build from the old build new extension foundations.
View of new build from the old build extension foundations.


One thought on “New Building Steel Frame Is Now Complete: Thompsons Leave Old Building & Work Begins, 9th December 2015”

  1. The old Gym was the coldest place on earth! Especially when doing mock exams in the winter. I remember the massive bins of hockey sticks and volley balls on the podium.

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