Portakabin, the UK’s leading modular building specialist, has provided 650 children with a 2,100sqm interim school after Newman Catholic School in Carlisle was devastated by floods.
The flood waters were 7ft deep in parts of the school, causing irreparable damage. Portakabin also provided interim classrooms for Newman School back in 2005 when the River Eden burst its banks and its buildings were first severely damaged by flooding.
Following the more recent floods, there was an immediate need for emergency teaching accommodation to allow the school to re-open in time for the start of the new spring term. Twelve single modular buildings were provided by Portakabin during the Christmas break. These classrooms were located on the site of a former primary school and supplied with furniture, data communications and alarm systems as a first response to get the school up and running again.
The buildings were then replaced with 24 general classrooms and highly fitted out specialist rooms including for ICT, design and technology, food technology and science, delivered in just 12 weeks. The interim school, which is designed and built to permanent standards, will be in use until a long-term solution is developed.
Portakabin provided Cumbria County Council with a full service for Newman School following the flood disaster – ground works for the buildings, all fitting out, air conditioning, fire and security alarm systems, access ramps and walkways, emergency lighting, furniture, service connections and data communications. The scheme also included the provision of sports changing rooms, shower and toilet facilities, and a sixth form common room.
The project had many challenges. The new school had to be sited on a water-logged playing field which required gas, electric and water services bringing in. The site was located in a constrained residential area so an access road had to be constructed for delivery of the buildings – and the site team had to work through very poor weather conditions.
Commenting on the project, John McAuley, Head Teacher at Newman Catholic School said, “We are really pleased with the performance of the Portakabin team and the first class facilities they have delivered. They were incredibly fast to respond to the situation and planning meetings were held within days of the disaster. Our priority was to ensure that our students could be taught in accommodation that was at least equivalent to what they had before. The reality is that the facilities provided by Portakabin are in many ways superior to our original classrooms.”
“The Portakabin design team was able to accommodate our specific requirements, such as larger science laboratories, and worked really hard to deliver exactly what we needed in a tremendously short timescale. Staff and students are all delighted.”
“The classrooms are bright, warm, airy and welcoming. Despite the terrible floods, our school now has considerably improved facilities. Portakabin has been brilliant and we would absolutely recommend the approach to other schools needing emergency accommodation or classrooms for shorter-term use. We have had a fantastic experience with such a responsive team of building professionals who have been there for us every step of the way.”
The work at Newman School follows the success of a number of other education projects for Cumbria County Council that Portakabin also delivered on time and on budget, including teaching accommodation for Stainburn School and Science College in Workington, Mayfield School, Belle Vue Primary School, and Inglewood Primary School.