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Diary of the Refurbishment

The boarding house refurbishment project involves the major reconfiguration and redesign of over 200 bedrooms and communal spaces, providing areas for socialising as well as private study.

Importantly, however, the modernisation will remain sensitive to our rich heritage by preserving impressive original Arts and Crafts detailing, such as fireplaces and staircases.

The refurbishment will be managed in two phases, with an anticipated completion date of autumn 2013

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Keep track of progress with the timeline below

  1. April 2013


    With the refurbishment of Houses 3 and 4 now entering the latter stages, the Senior Leadership Team had a top to bottom sneak preview last week.

    &Starting in Heaven (pictured left with Mr Tarbet and Mrs Bakhtiari), they loved the way the roof lines have led to each bedroom being furnished slightly differently, describing it as ‘quirky’ and ‘characterful’. It was then ‘a big ‘yes!’’ from everyone to the ‘stylish’ bathrooms with their vintage lights, rainfall showers and full height towel rails.

    The tour continued via the brand new breakout spaces – ‘great, just like university’ – to the new bedrooms, which look ‘just like the one in the picture!’. The light, open JPR (left) with its new workspaces was next and then it was on to the main rooms on the ground floor.

    This is a ‘wow’’, said Mr Rainey, looking at the new heritage paint scheme and island kitchen in the ODR. The new Hobbies and Terrace rooms, with its glass double doors was ‘gorgeous’.

    Yes, the Drawing Room is still full of sawdust, and the Study is full of builders, but there’s no doubt – the building has got its dignity back.      


    Heaven JPR
  2. March 2013


    On the first day of March, the House staff had an inspection tour of the new Houses and the verdict was ‘Wow - what a transformation!’

    ‘Having been involved from the very beginning of the project, it has been thrilling to watch the ideas move from architects’ drawings to models and now to the real thing’, said Graeme Rainey, Head of House 1.

    ‘The large common rooms look truly spectacular. Overall there is a real sense of the buildings being returned to their original glory, but with a distinctly twenty-first century feel.’

    ‘The dorms are luxurious, fit for any princess!’ agreed Julie Williams, Head of House 3.  'The girls will never recognise their old houses - we cannot wait to move in and show them off!’


    Heads of House
  3. February 2013


    Lorry-loads of flat-pack bedroom furniture arrived safely from Croatia at the start of February and is being stored in enormous piles in the JPRs until needed. 

    A team of over 25 carpenters is constructing it all systematically, from Heaven downwards, and Site Manager Mick thinks it should be pretty much done by the start of March.

    Bathrooms and the new break out spaces have been tiled and we have the first glimpse of the decoration in the big ground floor rooms – new cornicing in the JPRs, new double doors to the Terrace Room and a rich olive paint above the picture rail in the ODR (left).

    In the GDR, old floorboards are being recycled elsewhere in the building and new ones slotted in.


    Feb 2013 February diary
  4. January 2013


    With the worst of the weather hopefully behind us, the pace on site is picking up all the time. There are on average about 70 builders on site at any given time.

    All the structural work is now 100% complete.

    Heaven in both Houses is now plastered and painted, with new radiators and electrics connected. The teams have moved down to start on the next floor (see top left).

    In the corridors and staircases, all pipes and services have been hidden behind walls, in ceilings and under floors, so there is a neat, crisp finish. The new bathrooms are starting to be constructed and sanitaryware will be arriving shortly.

    Finally, two breakout spaces (overlooking the front Quad) in each house have been created by knocking two rooms together; these are being plastered at the moment before the joinery fittings come in (below left).


    Corridor Breakout room
  5. December 2012


    There have been about 60 builders on site in the run up to Christmas, maintaining the momentum through some really grim weather. We are delighted, then, to report two major milestones this month: heating and plastering.

    Firstly, the plumbers reconnected the heating in House 3. The boilers had been off since Easter, so their successful relighting was something of a relief (and testament to the skill of the plumbers, of course!).

    Also, ‘Heaven’ has been plastered and is drying (using heatlamps, as shown left) and there are new ceilings hiding the cabling on the second and third floors in both Houses. Floors and staircases are being patched and boarded out with plywood in preparation for the carpets.

    Items are arriving on site almost every day – 30 boxes of ironmongery (containing the antique brass- style door furniture) and the new doors for the public areas on the ground floor arrived just this morning.

    Project Manager Adrian: ‘I’m delighted we’ll hit our Christmas targets; we have a great team on site and the momentum will pick up even further in the New Year as we head towards the spring handover date.’


    Heatlamp Staircase patching
  6. November 2012


    This half term, the first of over 1100 double-glazed sea-facing windows were replaced in the Main School. Sussex firm Fabco were commissioned to make the leaded light windows, with a brief to keep them within 3mm of the depth of the original 1890s glazing. They have done a great job; even the curly window openers are in the same position as the originals.

    Inside the building, electricians have arrived and will be on site through to spring; the plastering (using a synthetic horsehair and lime concoction) has started; and 9 cubic metres of lightweight concrete has been pumped in to reinforce the floors.

    Most importantly, repairs to the structural steels have continued; the higher up the building, the worse their condition (as you can see from the dramatic corrosion, left). First, a disc from one steel per floor was removed and sent to a metallurgy lab in London for analysis. Then in Shoreham, a test weld was carried out, checked and certified, before the welders moved onsite to start repairs.   


    Conservation-style windows Corroded steels in House 3
  7. October 2012


    Preserving the soul of the Houses

    One of the central principles of the refurbishment project is the salvage and re-use of interior fittings. Thus original wooden banisters, cast iron radiators, tiled fireplaces, brass door handles and iron coat hooks are being carefully protected on site or removed and restored. As a result, the soul of the Houses will be preserved for future generations.  

    While stripping out House 4 (Lower/1st) floors, one of the labourers found a relic from Roedean’s wartime spell as HMS Vernon - a canister of Mills Web Equipment Khaki Cleaner No. 700. This light green powder was mixed with water and used to clean, waterproof and restore the khaki colour of the soldiers’ equipment. 

    We are intrigued to see what else we will find...


    Roedean Old Fireplace
  8. September 2012


    Progress in Houses 3 and 4

    In taking the main Houses back to the bare structural bones, Site Manager Mick Cox has watched two skips full of old furniture, plaster and flooring rumble off site every day.  It all has to be broken up and carried down by hand in rubble sacks to minimise dust and noise disruption to the school. The 18 or so labourers on site at the moment are mainly from Sussex, with a few Europeans to balance things out. ‘Looking outward’ school, ‘looking outward’ building team!

    Despite the labyrinthine nature of the Houses, and the wind whistling around the scaffolding, the team are enjoying the project; ‘It’s the best building site I’ve ever worked on – friendly staff and beautiful views’, says Cox.


    Mick Cox
  9. July 2012


    Finishing touches to Lawrence House

    Now the weather has improved, work has continued at a pace on the external painting of Lawrence House and the internal work should be complete within the month.


    Boarding Refurbishment July 2012
  10. June 2012


    Battling the weather

    A skilled team of builders, decorators, plumbers, electricians and roofers have been working day and night during June - despite the wet weather.

    The corridors, lounges, bedrooms, study areas and staff accommodation is making excellent progress. The team have been working outside on painting the building so that it matches the rest of the site.


    Boarding Refurbishment June 2012
  11. May 2012


    House 1 Show Room complete

    The Show Room was completed in time for our Open Morning on Bank Holiday Monday and the record number of visitors that day were impressed with what they saw.

    The comfortable and beautifully designed room  benefits from double-glazed windows, improved heating, an excellent study area and plenty of storage space.

    Outide, the corridor has an amazingly contemporary feel, with stripped wooden floors, a thick runner - in House colours - and stylish new Farrow and Ball-style paint.

    It is fantastic to see how the Arts and Crafts heritage of the building has been blended with architects BGY's expertise in the boutique hotel sector.


    May - new Show Room in House 1
  12. April 2012


    Lawrence House refurbishment on track

    The Lawrence House refurbishment works will be completed by mid-August.

    Now the weather has improved, the external decoration has commenced. This includes the painting of the building, doors and window frames and the removal of all the external wiring (to be replaced shortly).

    Demolition work and structural alterations have been completed and the first fix electrical and mechanical works have started.

    The mock up room has been signed off and work will now commence on updating all the bedrooms.


    Example Roedean Boarding Bedroom
  13. March 2012


    Lawrence House is brought back to life

    Over the next few months, Lawrence House (known to some former pupils as the San), a boarding house which has not been used for ten years, will be brought back into action.

    This is a £1.2m internal transformation of all bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, staff apartments and communal spaces.

    Work began this month and will be completed during the summer. When the girls return to school in September, Houses 3 and 4 will be temporarily accommodated in Lawrence House together during the first phase of the refurbishment of the four main houses.


    Carpenter making new frames
  14. November 2011


    Surveyors arrive on site

    Equipped with a Leica 1200 robotic total station, a team from Randall Surveys has been carrying out a measured building survey in order to produce 1/50 scale floorplan drawings and elevations of the external facades of the four houses. These will be sent to architects BGY as part of the submission for planning permission and listed building consent.

    'The team has over 70 years of experience in surveying listed heritage building,' said John, one of the surveyors, 'but we have rarely worked on a building in such a beautiful setting as Roedean.'


    Surveyor with laser equipment outside Roedean
  15. October 2011


    Appointment of architects

    Award-winning London firm Buckley Gray Yeoman (BGY) have been selected for the project.

    Director of Finance and Administration, Richard Poffley, was on the selection committee.

    ‘BGY immediately grasped what we were trying to achieve. Their proposals showed they understood that historically Roedean was a family-run school with a real sense of community. Their team instinctively ‘got’ the values of the community today and the houses’ continuing importance for both day and boarding girls.’

    Paul White (far left) is a Director at BGY in Shoreditch. 'At Roedean we’ll be breathing new life into spaces whilst at the same time preserving the distinct personality and character of the school. It’s a great project which we can’t wait to get started on.’


    Architects BGY awarded contract
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