One of our Restoration teams has been on site at Woolwich delivering a restoration package of works to two of the Grade II listed buildings within the original Royal Arsenal. Although our work on site began before the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lock down, this was one site that was able to reopen relatively quickly working to strict new RAMS to take account of social distancing. Our team here, and all our teams that returned to work during lock down have done a fantastic job and an important one in keeping the industry going.
Our Woolwich team were commended by Mace:
“It has been observed by Senior Mace management, that the attitude of your workers at Woolwich Creative District, has been very good, maintaining the 2m rule and adapting your work processes to ensure the Covid 19 guidance is adhered to” – David Joyce Associate Director of Construction, Mace
We caught up with some of the team there to find out a bit more about them and their work.
George Ross – Contracts Manager
How long have you been with Szerelmey for George?
I have been with Szerelmey for 17 and a half years now.
This must be one of the most unusual working circumstances you have ever been in. How is going and how are your team?
Yes, this is definitely something we all haven’t experienced before. We have had to adapt our working procedures to ensure they are compliant with social distancing which is working really well. The site guys have been extremely proactive and compliant with the new procedures that are in place.
I have heard that due to the long history of Woolwich Arsenal it is home to a resident ghost. Have you come across any supernatural beings?!
Me personally no, but the security guard has allegedly seen a man dressed in military uniform marching up and down the courtyard of Building 41, this is supposedly a solider who was told never to leave his post! Who knows??
What work are you carrying out on site and have the Covid-19 restrictions made it more difficult?
I am currently undertaking internal brickwork repairs. Procedures introduced by Szerelmey and Mace have not affected us too much, I can build a tower on my own up to 2.1m to maintain social distancing. We are all working on different elevations too.
Nigel, have you always worked in restoration?
I joined Szerelmey as an apprentice in 1982 and have always worked in restoration.
You must have worked on a number of really interesting buildings. Which is your favourite?
My favourite project was Bodiam Castle in East Sussex which consisted of cleaning and restoration works.
You started with us as an apprentice and are now qualified. I bet you never thought you would be working with social distancing! What do you find the hardest thing about the current working requirements?
The hardest thing for us to keep other trades out of our working areas and people walking the wrong way on the pedestrian one-way system. The procedures Szerelmey have in place are working very well.
Which is your favorite Szerelmey project you have worked on and why?
My favourite project I have worked on was Radnor Place, I really enjoyed being part of the project from start to finish and learning new skills under the mentorship of Richard Smith. We completely refurbished the facades, removing existing render and replacing with new brick effect render.
How long have you worked in the industry for Tony?
16 years, I was previously a carpenter.
Do you have a specialism in restoration or what is your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job is carrying the intricate moulded repairs and colour matching various fabrics.
Szerelmey is still very busy with enquiries and projects. Do you think the industry will bounce back quickly from this situation?
Yes I do think the construction industry will bounce back as it did in 2008. We are very lucky to be associated with specialist trade as people will still need to maintain their building fabric to protect it from future decay.
How long have you been with Szerelmey Gareth?
I started working at Szerelmey in January 2016.
What do you enjoy most about working in Restoration?
I really enjoy working on historic buildings and using traditional methods to preserve the lifespan of the building, I also really like the variety of work and every day poses a different challenge. I am very lucky to work within a team who shares the same passion as me.
Do you think we will ever get back to normal working as it was before Covid-19 or do you think this will change the way people work on site?
I think this will change the behavioural and working methods for all trades on site. The level of hygiene and cleanliness has changed dramatically on site which is a positive thing. Sites are a lot less crowded and there is now plenty of room to get changed and have your lunch. The new procedures implemented by Szerelmey Restoration and Mace have proved to be effective with preventing the spread of Covid-19 without impacting our methodology excessively. These measures make me feel safe to come to work each day.
Would you recommend apprenticeship to other young people and why?
I would most definitely recommend an apprenticeship with Szerelmey because you get the opportunity to work with skilled craftsman and learn a specialist trade.
Who at Szerelmey has had the most influence on you and your work?
I would have to say Nigel Brown and Tony Parsons.
What type of work are you doing on site at Woolwich?
Restoration works including stone indenting, replacing stone sills, brick replacement, brick pointing, brickwork reinforcement works using Helibar’s and brick mortar repairs.