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Refurbishing History – Future Proofing Our Past

The Palace of Westminster is one the most iconic buildings that not only sums up London, but the UK as a whole. Over the last few years articles regarding major refurbishment to the Palace have popped up in the media on a regular basis; with an article in April of this year stating that “the final binding vote on what should happen to the Palace of Westminster will not be held for another two or three years – possibly as late as 2020” [ ‘No decision on Houses of Parliament refurb for years as ministers hand plans to Olympic-style 'delivery authority' The Telegraph online]

Delays are inevitable due to political issues, such as the general election and Brexit and funding. Once it finally gets underway these will not be the only issues to have an impact on the refurbishment. Past refurbishments may have an unpleasant legacy.

Closer to Home

In September 2016 a smaller historical building began its refurbishment close to the UK offices of Maxim recruitment: St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray.  This historical building has been at the heart of this vibrant market town for over 1,000 years, though its visitors nowhere in the region of those who religiously venture for a photo opportunity outside the Palace of Westminster, its restoration project is just as important.

So why, you may ask, am I writing about this local restoration project? Last Saturday evening I was very lucky to be one of 90 local people who got a chance to glimpse inside St Mary’s Church, mid-restoration, to get a closer look at the restoration project so far.

[Attending the guided tour 13/05/17 – image credit: Melton Mowbray Parish Team]

Very few people get the privilege to attend a work site; other than those whom actually have to work on such projects. From a layman’s perspective it’s a little like walking through C.S. Lewis’ wardrobe and arriving in Narnia. But the overall awe I experienced was not what struck me.

Victorian Construction – Focused on the Present

What struck me most during my guided tour of the restoration site of St Mary’s that evening was what the Victorian’s had done to the church. Most churches were never built to last – they were never built with solid foundations and most began to fall down before they were even finished. So it is not surprising that every hundred years or so some form of restoration would be completed. During the Victorian era new piping was installed. Very forward thinking. But they did nothing to preserve the past or ensure the future of the church itself.

Graves within the floor of the church were literally dissected in two to allow new ducting to pass through a desired route. They wanted to go in a set direction and nothing would move them from that route. The past was in the past and there it would be forgotten.

They also did not seem to be too concerned with ensuring the church for future generations; only bothered with the here and now of their restoration needs. They needed to chip away at the rubble underpinning one of the four main support columns so that they could continue with their desired route for piping. Out of the four support columns one had been cut into and underneath; added to the fact that there are no typical foundations it is a scary thought that the church tower has remained upright all these years.

Construction Today: Focused on the Past, Present and the Future

Today, along with the time and effort put into ensuring that such restoration projects such as the Palace of Westminster are completed, within time and budget, the construction industry is far more focused on retaining our buildings and future proofing them for generations to come.

The restoration of St Mary’s church , Melton Mowbray, has not only repaired the restoration issues from our Victorian predecessors they have also looked at what may need to be worked on next; ensuring that space is available in new ducting areas for additional piping or other new-fangled requirements that may need to be installed into the church.

Construction on such projects embraces the past; establishing it is fit for purpose for the present and ensures that these historical buildings remain a dominate imaging on Britain’s horizon for future generations.

Setting Strong Foundations for Your Future Employment

Where the Victorian’s, in this particular instance, got it wrong was regarding those foundations. Don’t be like our ancestors, get your foundations right for your future requirements. Make sure your working CV has strong foundations highlighting your experiences and strengths. Be clear about what you have done, what your current skill set and position is and what you would like to achieve in the future.  Contact Maxim recruitment for help securing your next big project.

 

Sharlene Britton
Office Manager

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