Ground Control Complete Construction at Maritime Streets
And that’s a wrap! Landscape Construction works at Maritime Streets, Barrow, are complete! Construction Manager, Phil Townsend gives us his take on the works of what has turned out to be a truly outstanding project…
Maritime Streets Situated on Barrow Island is a 100 year old collection of old Tenement flats; reminiscent of those that populated Glasgow. Built for Railway workers, this facility is now split between the permanent residents of the Island and the transitional population of Engineers and Contractors (us included) who work for companies such as BAE Systems – currently engaged in the UK’s submarine building programme – and Dong Energy – undertaking the UK’s largest off-shore Windfarm project. The Street names include Sloop St, Steamer St, Schooner St and Barque St, all names of types of types of vessels.
Maritime Streets was an estate in desperate need of improvement and a population feeling as if the world had forgotten them! Of course it hadn’t, which, after several years of planning and preparation, was about to show itself in the grandest of manners.
To create something that genuinely breaks the mould takes vision, planning, details and a whole lot of very hard work, including a significant amount of disruption. From the moment we arrived, roads were closed, parking spaces removed, footpaths excavated and of course through all of this, there was mud, albeit we try as much as possible to mitigate that. Throughout, there have been very few mumblings, with the over-riding feeling from those in and around the areas, that here, at last, someone was trying to improve their lot.
Arriving 3rd January, we knew the job was going to last at least 7 months. Of course, as a result of technical issues and challenges, the scheme ran longer than anticipated, but always in agreement and always managed. Fences, Canopies and Totems, were 3 of the most challenging items involved, all requiring expert input from specialist suppliers who sometimes proved difficult, but wow, was it all worth it!
Planning, finding problems, trying solutions, re-planning and executing, all lead on site by our part-time, sometime retired, Engineer – Steve Anderton, and our combination of come and go Site Managers, including our very own ‘Dan the Scan’ Ashman, who kindly helped out, not once, but twice, in our hour of need! And yet, somehow, it all came together and from around 6 months into the scheme, it began to take shape and the imaginations of the Landscape Architects – notably Noel Farrer (principal), Bruno Amador (main designer of the scheme) , Xoan Perez (designer of the Soft Landscaping scheme) and, latterly, Jeremy Lord (the deliverer), came to life.
First the 7 Totems went in. These large, specialist units arrived in 2 loads and were lifted into position using 2 hiab units. These were designed to be lit up from the base, meaning that the quality of the finish, the accuracy of the placement and the visibility of the lettering, all had to be just so. Of course they also have to be built to stand the test of time, and a last minute re-think of the engineering demands called for a series of pins to be used to absorb the potential extra impact that was required.
Another significant challenge was the Canopies. Again, the design was challenged – not in its presentation, but in its Engineering. The method of fixing had to be altered as a solution. Firstly the poles then the Canopy structures were lifted into position, all onto pre-cast reinforced bases. These structures are perhaps the most eye-catching of all the items used on site. With lights positioned in the paving beneath, and with benches and seats to enjoy the location, together with Table Tennis and Chess Tables; this will hopefully become the focal point of the whole scheme, for a long time after we have ended our input.
Of course with any scheme like this, the planting scheme is always one of the finishing touches and, on this particular project, provides the contrast against which the large steel and concrete features can best show themselves. Resin Bonded Gravel throughout and a bespoke lighting scheme really finish the project off.
Being where the scheme is – in a town at the end of what is locally referred to as ‘the longest cul-de-sac in England’ – may well mean that most reading this are unlikely ever to see this scheme in person. Even more unlikely is the idea that you will see it at night, but perhaps from the photos available you will be able to get a flavour for what the lighting scheme brings to the whole project – it is, as Freddie would say, a Kind of Magic.
But this isn’t where the story ends. The scheme was opened with a ‘Garden Party’ on a brisk October afternoon, inviting residents, young and old, to take a good look around. The feedback was wholly positive, commenting on how lovely it was to see the difference the scheme had made. The challenge now is to try and ensure that this becomes a legacy which is looked after and used correctly; that the planting is tendered and cared for (hopefully with long term involvement from Ground Control), and that any damage is corrected quickly. This scheme was brought to the residents in an effort to improve their lives and environments, that much is complete. We must now help them to try and ensure that the benefit it brings is lasting.