Interserve, the international support services and construction group, has started work carrying out specialist repairs to Sandhurst’s Grade II listed Royal Military Academy.
The ‘Old College’ is currently in use as a teaching facility where cadets train in the hope of becoming British Army Officers. Built at the beginning of the 19th Century, the building is also a museum, featuring gifts from foreign dignitaries and priceless artefacts.
The £18m contract for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is due for completion in May 2016, and was awarded to PriDE, a joint venture between Interserve and Scottish & Southern Energy Contracting.
The renovation project, which is being carried out while the building remains occupied, involves the replacement of roof slates and the safe removal of around 3,000 sq m of asbestos from roof voids. It also involves the deconstruction and rebuilding of 58 chimneys, which requires the use of 1,700 tonnes of scaffolding, which would reach 3,200 km if laid end to end.
Interserve has put in place safe systems of work, including the provision of fire rated tunnels to withstand falls and protection around fire exits to facilitate the daily operation of the college, which will remain live.
Passing out parades – attended by members of the Royal Family – for officers who have completed their training are being held in front of the building while the project is underway. For these occasions, in order to conceal the unsightly scaffolding, a specialist fabric façade has been placed over the building, over-printed with a life-size image of how it will look when work is completed.
Interserve Site Manager, Owen Bax, said: “The volume and the complexity of scaffolding required on this scheme are quite a challenge. So too is the necessity to protect as carefully as possible this historic building and its contents, which are part of Britain’s cultural heritage. Throughout the renovation process, we are safeguarding priceless memorabilia, including those located in the building’s ‘India Room’, and shielding unique stained glass windows from damage. This project really is one of a kind.”
This project is very high profile and has been carried out with great efficiency by Interserve, allowing Sovereign Parades and VIP visits in and around the Old College, to be carried out in the normal manner with minimal disruption.
DIO Project Manager, Peter Lillywhite, said: “This is a unique building, so this project poses unique challenges – as well as the requirement to maintain operations while the work is done. We will be working closely with our Army customers, PriDE and Interserve to ensure this important work is finished to the high standards this historic landmark deserves.”