Urgent work to ensure Peterborough’s Key Theatre is open in time for panto season is progressing well.
Construction experts from Lindum Group have been working 12-hour shifts alongside subcontract scaffolders and carpenters to get the venue ready for its busiest time of the year.
Its main auditorium in Embankment Road has been closed since mid-September following the discovery of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).
Lindum has been onsite since Monday, October 9th – just two weeks after receiving a call for help from Peterborough City Council.
To date, 500 scaffolding boards, 2,640 metres of timber, 2,200 metal clips and 37,000 nails have been used to install specially designed roof supports. The hand painted timber frames provide additional support the 200 RAAC panels above.
Site manager Paul Anniss said a project of this scale would usually take twice as long but that efforts were being accelerated so the Christmas showing of Aladdin could open as planned on Saturday, December 2nd.
“We are so pleased to be able to help and are really grateful to our own workforce and our subcontractors who have worked quickly to get the project mobilised,” he said.
“Because Lindum employs many of its own construction staff, we were able to assemble a team quickly by reorganising staffing on other projects. We are operating split shifts, meaning we have people on site from 7am to 7pm every day.
“The first week involved installation of the scaffolding to create a 20 ft-high platform for the team to work on. Subcontractors XL Scaffolding Ltd have created an impressive structure spanning the entire auditorium, across all the seats, the orchestra pit and the stage.
“They had to navigate the theatre’s stage lighting rigs and all the power cables that run through the building. The amount they’ve used would be the equivalent to scaffolding 10 two storey houses and they even had to order in new boards especially for the project.
“Once this was in place, the team from Vangard Carpentry Ltd began their work, using 550 lengths of timber to build a frame to attach to the roof’s steel beams.
“Each timber beam is 4.8m long and is being painted black on every edge in a cabin outside the theatre’s stage doors. Once he’s finished, the decorator from Expressions Decor Ltd will have painted a total linear length of 10,560 metres of wood – equivalent to 6 and a half miles or 115 football pitches!”
As well as facing a tight deadline, the construction team is carrying out the work while the rest of the venue is still in operation.
“We are working closely with the team and amending our operations to make sure they can operate safely,” added Paul.
“We altered our site access points for a day so the theatre could still provide a club for a group of disabled people, who needed access to the toilets which had been on the other site of our welfare room.
“We’ve also had to ensure we have very clear signage and partitions in place, to ensure safe segregation of working areas.
“So far, work is going well, and we are on track to finish on time. And if all continues to go to plan, I will be first in the queue to buy panto tickets!!”