University of the West of England Repair to Historic Clocktower

Constructed in 1861, Glenside Campus, now home to UWE’s Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences since 1996, was once known as Beaufort War Hospital, Glenside Hospital and then Blackberry Hospital, home to patients of war with mental illness and the sick.

DURATION

26 Weeks

LOCATION

Bristol

VALUE

£120,000

EXPERTISE

Principal Contractor

SECTOR

Education

Located on Blackberry Hill on the suburbs of Fishponds, Glenside’s clocktower rising to 120ft, with clockfaces 8ft in diameter on each side, is a prominent landmark, and yet it was in desperate need of repair; a hazard to health and safety due to falling debris.

What the client wanted

We were appointed principal contractor and principal designer to complete window restoration works and to undertake clock tower repairs, refurbishing its slate roof and louvres and to sympathetically restore the clocks mechanism and each of the clockfaces, new stained glass and illuminated dials, to features as originally manufactured by Potts & Sons of Leeds.

How we helped

A particular challenge was the scaffold design due to the adjoining buildings and the span of their roofs, as illustrated in the picture above. With the scaffold design otherwise needing to span multiple buildings, wind load and the structural integrity of that design was impractical to construct, and an alternative design was required. The solution was to construct a self-supporting scaffold design supported from the roof with one side constructed from the ground and the remaining three sides roof supported and tied to the building, and a supporting brace running through the width of the building through front and back windows to give the structure rigidity. Debris netting was also formed around the clocktower itself.

Works to the clock tower were programmed to commence first during the summer holidays when the Faculty is closed, and completing window restoration afterwards, as a result of the potential risks of health and safety to students, staff and the general public given the nature of the works. Window restoration works were undertaken by our own multi-skilled joiners, removing, remaking, and installing new, handmade pieces contoured to the original profile and jointed into place and decorated to original colours. Assessing the risk of these works from working at such height, approximately 12 storeys high, and selecting the right suitably skilled craftsmen capable of working at that height had been particularly challenging since few people had both the skills and head for heights to successfully complete that work.

Our solution was twofold, firstly to appoint the work to skilled trades that demonstrated their ability to work at that height, typically our multiskilled tradesmen that are engaged in roofing works, and to identify the work to be done measured to their capability, and for anything else items of the building to be remove and taken to ground level to be restored.

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