Vulcan Works

Work continues on Northampton's £10.8m cultural quarter in line with social-distancing

The project to convert Northampton’s disused iron works, known as Vulcan Works, has been designated as an essential scheme under the Government’s COVID-19 rules. The £10.8m scheme which sits at the centre of a new ‘Cultural Quarter’ in Northampton is being led by main contractor Stepnell.

British Gypsum Certified Plasterer Scheme member and Site Manager at Taylor Hart, Ian Grayson, is completing the drylining and plastering on this prestigious scheme. Working as part of a 10-man team, Ian explains the practical implications of working within the confines of social-distancing measures and stringent health and safety practices: “Vulcan Works is a series of Grade II listed buildings, formerly iron works and shoe manufacturing premises dating back to 1875, so as you can imagine, we are working in tight, awkward spaces – this has had a significant impact on the way we are working, particularly where a two-man team is required. We’ve got a father and son working in the team who are working together and living together so that’s really benefitted our progress! For larger areas we’ve broken up spaces into smaller sections to ensure the guys are at least two metres apart at any one time. It’s working well and in reality, we all have a strong desire and will to respect the measures in place to protect us all.”

Main contractor, Stepnell, has implemented strict guidance across the site and is working closely with all sub-contractors to ensure these measures are implemented.

Adrian Barnes regional director at Stepnell said: “Vulcan Works is a tremendous site and lends itself perfectly to the development of a Cultural Quarter. The architecture is unique, and unlike many new-build schemes, its quirkiness has brought a number of challenges to the way we are managing all the teams on site in response to COVID-19 safe operating procedures. In many areas we have limited the number of people that can be working at any one time to just two, and in some cases just one. It definitely brings complexity to this scheme, but as Ian points out, staying safe is our first priority.”

Photography credit: Beth Walsh

British Gypsum - Vulcan Works