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SEH Commercial protects hull tidal barrier from the elements

23 Jan 12 The Hull Tidal Surge Barrier is the second biggest flood barrier in the country after the Thames barrier.

Built in 1980 at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber Estuary, the 212 tonne, 30 metre-wide gate is supported between two towers that house the operating machinery and with much of Kingston-upon-Hull susceptible to flooding at times of tidal surges, protects nearly 17,000 homes and businesses from inundation from tidal flooding. The barrier is closed about 12 times a year and has protected the city from the effects of more than 30 high tidal surges since it opened in April 1980 including a record high surge in November 2011.

The Environment Agency contracted SEH Commercial’s sister company, Jackson Civils to refurbish the structure. Andrew Newton, Projects Team Manager at the Environment Agency saw the benefits of the partnership during the tender process: “In our business we don’t have a great deal of involvement with windows so for Jacksons to be able to offer their relationship with a venerable window firm like SEH Commercial as part of the Group structure to be involved in the project, was certainly a valuable asset when we were looking at the bids for the contract.”

An iconic structure in the area, the two towers are set either side of the waterway and house the barrier motors in the top of them; the towers are connected by a 25 metre high enclosed walkway which, as part of the refurbishment now has a synchronisation shaft running through it to improve the efficiency of the barrier. The whole structure is regularly pounded by the elements and the saline coastal environment had taken its toll. As part of the Environment Agency’s £10 million refurbishment project, the specification called for the 2 metre long mullions, which hold the barrier’s 550 glazing panels in place, to be replaced to maintain health and safety levels and maintain weather-proofing. SEH Commercial extracted the panels, replaced 10 with new glazing panes and replaced the originals once the mullions were in place.

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Working at height and on such a structure required specialist skills, skills which SEH Commercial’s specialist fenestration teams have along with CHAS, Safe Contractor, Constructionline and other accreditations. The project ran from early September until November having been disrupted at numerous times by adverse weather conditions but on completion, Andrew Newton was delighted with the result. “Certainly we are delighted with the work undertaken by SEH Commercial and would consider using the Company on future projects.”

Paul Hickin, site manager for Jackson Civils: “SEH Commercial did what we expected of them and were very accommodating, especially due to the constraints put on the project by the weather. We are now planning further additional works on the barrier with SEH.”

In 2011 SEH Commercial satisfied another Environment Agency project alongside Jackson Civils by upgrading windows and frames at the Welches Dam water pumping station in the Cambridgeshire fens.

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