One tower, seven men and 9,000 tubes
Press release issued: 31 March 2006
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the University of Bristol’s Wills Memorial Building, has reached a crucial stage in phase one of its restoration programme.
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the University of Bristol’s Wills Memorial Building, has reached a crucial stage in phase one of its restoration programme. The sixty-eight metre high tower of the Grade II* listed building is now completely surrounded by a very intricate netted scaffolding. To mark this special occasion, a ceremony is taking place at the top of the tower on Monday, 3 April at 11.30 am to celebrate the completion of the mammoth project that has taken three months to construct.
At the ceremony, the University's Bursar, Mike Phipps will hand over the final scaffold clip and tag to be fixed to the scaffolding by a member of Flooks Scaffolding Co, certifying the completion of the work. This certification marks the start of the next stage in the repair and restoration by signifying that the scaffolding is handed over to W.R.Bedford Stonemasons, the main contractor for the external works.
In order to support the immense weight of the scaffolding, 150 railway sleepers have been laid at the base and a network of 9,000 steel tubes erected. These tubes weigh a total of 300 tonnes and, if laid end to end, would run for 56 kilometres or all the way to Taunton. There are also 30 tonnes of clips and fittings, 40 tonnes of beams to create bridges and 90 tonnes of scaffold boards equivalent to 50 lorry-loads of materials, all handled and erected by a team of just seven men.
The last time the tower was completely scaffolded was in the early 1920s, with the ‘topping out ceremony’ signifying the completion of building works to the tower.
When the nine-month, £750,000 project is complete, the tower will be an even more impressive sight on the city’s skyline. The stonework will be restored to its original sandy colour and will be illuminated by discreet, energy-efficient floodlights. Bristol will have a new night-time spectacle.
Dave Skelhorne, the University’s Contract Supervisor said: “This represents the completion of a truly spectacular construction particularly given that it has been so difficult to get the materials on to the site. The scaffolders deserve the highest praise for their efforts.“