After working four storeys below ground, the team working on the Bank House scheme in Newcastle has now taken to the skies with a 72- metre high tower crane.
Driving a tower crane is not for the faint-hearted – not only do you need a head for heights, but driver Keith Richards can spend up to 11 hours a time alone with only the views and a radio to speak with the team on the ground.
Keith who is 53 and from County Durham, started his working life as a banksman and after relevant training his career progressed enabling him to drive some of the tallest cranes in the country.
“The view from this crane is spectacular – I can see the whole of Newcastle and beyond from up there,” said Keith.
“I thought the view over Edinburgh was fantastic, but this one is just as good. I love what I do. Even though I spend most of my day on my own, I know I am helping the site team to achieve success. The only downside to my job is climbing the ladder in rain or snow,” he added.
Keith is an integral part of our project team, working alongside them and up to 30 other sub-contract companies on the 14-storey, £100 million commercial development for Taras Properties.
The scheme is on the site of the former Bank of England property on Pilgrim Street and at the beginning of the project, they had to break out the original bank vaults which were four storeys below ground. These have now been reformed to create a two-storey basement for the new development.
B+K Senior Project Manager, Neil Shaw, explained the importance of the tower crane on site: “This crane is essential to the progress of the project. Not only are we in the heart of the city centre, but the site is extremely tight with limited space for storage. Without the crane, the scheme wouldn’t be possible logistically.”
During the life of the new development. Keith and the crane will not only lift materials around the site but will also be instrumental in erecting the structural steelwork, roof plant and pre-cast panels on the facade of the building.
The project will be a catalyst for change in the Pilgrim Street area of Newcastle and is also providing jobs for local people during construction as 50% of all sub-contractors on the site are from within the North East region.
Images show the bird’s eye view from the top of the crane and Keith Richards (left) with B+K Senior PM, Neil Shaw