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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Demolition of Carlisle senior school starts ahead of £25 million rebuild

Work to demolish the Richard Rose Morton Academy ahead of a £25 million rebuild began this week.

Morton demolition photo
Headteacher Katie Robinson on the site

With students pressed against the windows of the still-functioning tower block to watch work get underway, demolition teams began to tear down the school’s theatre.

The academy’s headteacher Katie Robinson said: “The whole process has been tremendously exciting. On Tuesday the students and I had a vantage point at the back of the building looking through four plate glass windows, 10ft from the back of the demolition machine. We were left in shock at how the thing was pulled to pieces.

“Up to now, it has all been about drawings and people the students don’t know talking about a building that is hard to conceptualise.

“There has been nothing on site they could hold and see as significantly different, but now they have watched somewhere they used to sit and learn and have assemblies demolished with such speed.

Now you can feel it in the air that we are going to get a brand new school, and it’s really happening.”

Within hours of the work beginning the theatre area of the main building, which has been the venue for assemblies and performances for generations of students down the years, was reduced to a shell.

And shortly after that, the shell crumbled, piece by piece, under the pressure of the giant claw of the demolition machine, with curtains, wires, and even posters still hanging from the walls.

Yet despite the scale of the demolition carrying on all around some offices, just inches from the edge of the demolition, continued to operate throughout.

“It was a real spectator event,” Mrs Robinson added.

“We had children lining the corridors of the four-storey block to watch. I think it’s the first time they have acknowledged that next year they will be walking into a new school.

“This school has been a focal point of Morton for a long time and a lot of people are seeing this occur with mixed emotions.

“It’s always sad to see anything being demolished, but what’s keeping students going is that they are not just getting a new school, they are going to get a fantastic opportunity to be in that academy which is completely different to anything they could know about.”

Following the demolition of the theatre, the classrooms next to it will be brought down, continuing along the length of the main building with work due to be completed within two weeks.

The ruins of the old school will then be crushed and used in the foundations of the new building, minimising waste from the Wigton Road site.

The scheme involves demolition of most of the existing buildings, with the exception of the swimming pool. A new three-storey building will feature a glazed atrium, flanked by teaching blocks, providing the school with 114,000sq ft of floorspace, slightly more than it has now.

Work on the first part of the rebuild will take around 18 months, allowing students from the remaining parts of the school to move into the new block before the second phase of demolition and construction begins.

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