Old Building Ground Floor Update with Conal Stamp, 18th May 2016

Newcastle High School for GirlsI 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.

newcastle high school for girls
Conal Stamp, photographed at handover time.

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.

newcastle high school for girls
Entering through the old green Church High doors for the first time since August 2014.

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.

newcastle high school for girls
The reception area will be much more open-plan than before.

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.

Work is now underway on the LRC courtyard door.
Work is underway on the LRC courtyard door.

Newcastle High school courtyardWork on all doorways was clearly now in progress because to my right the Science Block side entrance looked very different indeed.

The building plaque is still in place, but the Science Block side entrance has been temporarily removed.
The building’s date plaque is still in place at this point, although the Science Block glass side entrance has been temporarily removed.

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.

The end Chemistry Lab is in 'workshop mode' at present but the Prep Room is now nearly transformed.
The end Chemistry Lab is in ‘workshop mode’ at present but the Prep Room is nearly transformed into the HOY Office.

Head of Year OfficeToilet 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.

The washbasins in the girls' toilets now line the east wall.
The washbasins in the girls’ toilets will now line the east wall.

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.

The Dining Hall has been divided up by stud walls.
The Dining Hall has been divided up by stud walls into offices.

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.

Looking down into the Boiler Room.
Looking down into the Boiler Room from the bottom corridor.
From outside the building, I enter the Boiler Room at last.
From outside, I enter the Boiler Room at last.
The walls are newly white-washed and the new heating system is just starting to be installed.
The Boiler Room is newly white-washed and installation of the new central heating system now appears to be underway.

Church High Boiler RoomTo 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.

A network of heating pipes near the new side door.
A maze of heating pipes by the new side door.

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.

The new Head's Office looks out onto the Pupil Plaza between the two buildings.
The new Head’s Office in the infill extension is glass-fronted and looks out onto the Pupil Plaza between the two buildings.


One thought on “Old Building Ground Floor Update with Conal Stamp, 18th May 2016”

  1. In real time, the doors of Newcastle High School for Girls opened to pupils on Tuesday 6th September. There will be a general Open Day on Saturday 17th September for anyone wishing to view the buildings and also a Church High Alumnae Open Day on Saturday 24th September. The combination of historical legacy and hi-spec is truly impressive, but, lest we forget, a video tour of the old building’s interior in 2013 is now on the Heritage website if you ever have 30 minutes to spare.

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