NGMH renovation: rapporteur report #3, March 2019

Words and images by Marcus Duran, New Unity’s project rapporteur

Date: Tuesday 30th April 2019

Since our last report, the building works at the Newington Green Meeting House have been visibly advancing on multiple fronts.

Major progress has been made on opening up the new basement, which will hold a lift, toilets and a meeting space. On the day of my visit, the digging had reached its deepest point under the old kitchen space, and the team was laying out the foundation points for two sets of toilets and the space that will hold the completely new lift shaft.

The work is complex and involves a number of important logistical sequences that need to be perfect. Everything is worked out and discussed in millimetres.

A builder checks on the conveyor belt that will mechanically lift out tonnes of rubble from the Meeting House and into a skip waiting outside

A builder checks on the conveyor belt that will mechanically lift out tonnes of rubble from the Meeting House and into a skip waiting outside

Steel grids are now fulfilling their most important role – supporting the structure of the building while digging and building works continue below

Steel grids are now fulfilling their most important role – supporting the structure of the building while digging and building works continue below

Team member moves through the extensive building works at the back of the Newington Green Meeting House

Team member moves through the extensive building works at the back of the Newington Green Meeting House

The digging is relentless and will continue to move its way through the remaining ground and will go all the way through to the back of the building, including a small section of the outdoor courtyard.

In the main body of the Meeting House, a new complex of scaffolding referred to as a “bird cage” has been erected to create a work platform covering every corner of the existing ceiling. This has provided access to all of the ceiling and the two - normally out-of-reach - skylights. Three sets of ladders provide access to this new space.

Wooden planks high up above the pews

Wooden planks high up above the pews

The “bird-cage” scaffolding structure set-up in the main area of the Meeting House

The “bird-cage” scaffolding structure set-up in the main area of the Meeting House

The first objective was to assess the state of the ceiling, and then to begin the structural works that will precede painting and decorating.

All the pews are protected with thick coverings, and the metal poles and wooden planks create an impressive structural presence in the Meeting House. Soon this scaffolding will be echoed on the outside of the building, as the project begins to focus on the external works.

Team member surveying the ceiling

Team member surveying the ceiling