Oh yes they will! Construction experts Lindum vow to have Peterborough's Key Theatre open in time for panto season

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Venue was temporarily closed after RAAC discovery

Construction experts say they have accelerated work to get Peterborough’s Key Theatre open in time for panto season.

The theatre on the Embankment was temporarily closed in September after the discovery of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete – typically known as RAAC – in the main auditorium.

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The lightweight form of concrete, which was used in building construction from the 1950s until the mid-1990s, has been the focus of nationwide fears that the passage of time has weakened it and left buildings at risk of collapse.

Work is under way inside Peterborough's Key Theatre to strengthen the ceiling.Work is under way inside Peterborough's Key Theatre to strengthen the ceiling.
Work is under way inside Peterborough's Key Theatre to strengthen the ceiling.

Following the discovery of RAAC at the theatre, the building’s owner, Peterborough City Council, called in experts from the Lindum Group, which operates from Newark Road, Peterborough, who have been on site since October 9.

Site manager Paul Anniss said such a project would usually take twice as long but work was being accelerated to ensure the Christmas showing of Aladdin could open as planned on December 2.

It has involved staff working 12-hour shifts alongside subcontract scaffolders and carpenters to get the venue ready on time.

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The company says that so far equipment used to install specially designed roof supports has included:

  • 500 scaffolding boards
  • 2,640 metres of timber
  • 2,200 metal clips
  • 37,000 nails
  • Hand painted timber frames provide additional support the 200 RAAC panels.
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Peterborough Key Theatre to close temporarily amid concrete concerns

Mr Anniss said: “We are so pleased to be able to help and are really grateful to our own workforce and our subcontractors who have worked quickly to get the project mobilised.

"As Lindum employs many of its own construction staff, we were able to assemble a team quickly by reorganising staffing on other projects.

"We are operating split shifts, meaning we have people on site from 7am to 7pm every day.“The first week involved installation of the scaffolding to create a 20 feet-high platform for the team to work on.

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"Subcontractors XL Scaffolding Ltd have created an impressive structure spanning the entire auditorium, across all the seats, the orchestra pit and the stage.“They had to navigate the theatre’s stage lighting rigs and all the power cables that run through the building.

"The amount they’ve used would be the equivalent to scaffolding 10 two-storey houses and they even had to order in new boards especially for the project.Mr Anniss added: “Once this was in place, the team from Vangard Carpentry began their work, using 550 lengths of timber to build a frame to attach to the roof’s steel beams.“Each timber beam is 4.8 metres long and is being painted black on every edge in a cabin outside the theatre’s stage doors.

"Once this is finished, decorators from Expressions Decor will have painted a total linear length of 10,560 metres of wood – equivalent to six and a half miles or 115 football pitches”As well as facing a tight deadline, the construction team is carrying out the work while the rest of the venue is still in operation.