Construction News

Fri July 19 2024

Related Information

Restoration drama

28 Mar 23 Lyndon SGB is now half-way through its contract providing access for the restoration of Manchester Town Hall, while in Scotland its scaffolding and temporary works equipment is playing an important role in the painstaking reconstruction of Glasgow’s Mackintosh Building

Lyndon SGB has encapsulated Manchester Town Hall inside shrink-wrap sheeting
Lyndon SGB has encapsulated Manchester Town Hall inside shrink-wrap sheeting

Restoring a Grade I- (or, in Scotland, Grade A)-listed building is a delicate and painstaking process. And the delicacy demanded of the works extends to the access methods chosen for the specialists carrying out the work.

Since early 2019 Lyndon SGB has been working under contract to management contractor Lendlease to install access scaffolding for the £330m repair and refurbishment project at Manchester Town Hall. This is the first full refurbishment the building has seen in its 150-year history, previous works having been undertaken on a piecemeal basis.

Lyndon SGB is now more than half-way through its contract and the building is fully scaffolded,  encapsulated in shrink-wrap sheeting and protected with temporary roofs.
The company currently has around 20 scaffolders permanently on site, erecting the roof access scaffold. 

Extensive scaffolding beneath the temporary roofs provides comprehensive access for restorers at Manchester Town Hall.
Extensive scaffolding beneath the temporary roofs provides comprehensive access for restorers at Manchester Town Hall.

At the height of the operation, Lyndon SGB had up to 55 operatives working there.
Craig Parry, project manager for Lyndon SGB, notes that Manchester Town Hall “is among the top 2% heritage buildings in the UK” and the restrictions this places on his job of scaffolding the structure are onerous.

For example: “We have to keep ties to a minimum to avoid damaging the building 
itself. We try to fix ties to stones that are due to be replaced,” he explains.
“We plan the location of the ties, then we have to get them signed off by Lendlease, then Manchester City Council and then by English Heritage. Each tie is signed-off with four signatures before, during and after installation,” adds Parry. 

This article was first published in the March 2023 issue of The Construction Index Magazine. Sign up online.

The building itself is large, complex and ornate. “Nothing is sequential,” says Parry. “Nothing mirrors anything else; there are no square corners, nothing is parallel…”
But now Parry and his team have completed the full external scaffolding structure and installed the temporary roofs.

All the roofs on the building are being stripped and the natural slate tiles are being replaced. The underlying timber structures are generally in very good condition, says Parry, which is remarkable as they have hardly been touched since they were built. The slates, however, are weathered and need replacing.

The temporary roof – a proprietary third-party system – was erected in January; Lyndon SGB had to wait until Lendlease had signed off restoration work on the many brick chimneys. Roof access is provided by a Haki staircase system.

Lyndon SGB’s scaffolding is likely to be in place at Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building for several years to come
Lyndon SGB’s scaffolding is likely to be in place at Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building for several years to come

The scaffold sheeting, however, is a specialist system that is shrink-wrapped onto the scaffolding. This type of building wrap is usually the preserve of a specialist but Lyndon SGB has established its own division to carry out this work. 

“No other scaffolding contractors supply their own shrink-wrap system – it’s usually a third-party operation,” says Lyndon SGB regional manager Jon Cooke. “We set up our own division for this because we want to control our own destiny,” he adds. 

This article was first published in the March 2023 issue of The Construction Index Magazine. Sign up online.

Installing the building wrap system is a very different operation from traditional scaffold sheeting. Whereas traditionally the heavy-duty sheets are secured to the scaffolding and tensioned with ties, the wrap is fixed to a special subframe and tensioned by shrinking with heat guns. 

Related Information

“It’s a very skilled operation that takes a long time to master. It’s easy to burn a hole if you don’t know what you’re doing” says Cooke. Luckily, Lyndon SGB’s building wrap division is managed by a specialist, Paul Maskin, who is experienced in the technique.

Manchester Town Hall is now completely covered with shrink-wrapped scaffolding and temporary roof systems
Manchester Town Hall is now completely covered with shrink-wrapped scaffolding and temporary roof systems

With the scaffold completed and sheeted,  and the temporary roofs in place, Lyndon SGB will now only need to make minor adjustments to accommodate the needs of the specialist contractors carrying out the restoration work.

Cooke believes the Manchester Town Hall project to be the biggest scaffolding contract in the UK, and possibly the whole of Europe, currently. “It’s a unique project; you’ll never see this done ever again because from now on, there will be a programme of scheduled maintenance. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us,” he adds.

Cooke and Parry are already working on the next major operation: planning the scaffold decommissioning process which is due to start in September. 
Whereas the scaffold has been installed progressively over several months, it will all need to be dismantled and removed in just a few weeks.

“We’ve got 4,000 tonnes of scaffolding to dismantle and remove from the site,” says Cooke. “Access is very difficult; we’re very close to the public realm and surrounded by neighbouring buildings. There are also three courtyards within the town hall and we can’t get any vehicles close to those.

This article was first published in the March 2023 issue of The Construction Index Magazine. Sign up online.

Meanwhile, up in Glasgow, Lyndon SGB is working on another delicate heritage restoration project, supplying a bespoke scaffolding and access system for Glasgow School of Art’s famous Mackintosh Building.

The Mackintosh Building, a Grade A-listed building, was almost completely destroyed by a fire that ripped through it in the summer of 2018, only four years after another, smaller blaze had gutted parts of the building.

Lyndon SGB has been active on site from the start of reconstruction work, first as principal contractor and subsequently under main contractors including Taylor & Fraser, Kier and now Lanarkshire-based Reigart Contracts.

A special heavy-duty scaffold supports the Mackintosh Building’s fragile façade
A special heavy-duty scaffold supports the Mackintosh Building’s fragile façade

Lyndon SGB’s role on the project has seen it contribute through all phases, from delivering access for the west wing and a temporary roof following the first fire to façade retention and general access scaffolding following the second blaze.

The first scaffold works began in August 2014 when Lyndon SGB erected a bespoke structure incorporating soldier brackets to the rear elevations over adjoining roofs and a proprietary Coverspan roof over three roof pitches. It also supplied support scaffolds to the west piers – although these scaffolds were never completed, being destroyed in the second fire.

Phase two of the scaffolding began in June 2018 with the installation of a specially-designed heavy duty facade retention system. The temporary works phase is ongoing, with an estimated completion date of late 2025 or early 2026. 

This article was first published in the March 2023 issue of The Construction Index Magazine. Sign up online.

Got a story? Email news@theconstructionindex.co.uk

MPU
MPU

Click here to view latest construction news »