Silver Winner in 2022 | Secondary Schools

Mark Turner
Willmott Dixon
All Finalists

Willmott Dixon

Royal Liberty School, Romford, Essex

Royal Liberty School, Romford, Essex: refurbishment of grade II*-listed building, and construction of standalone sports hall, completed in 122 weeks. 

Client: Department for Education 

Contract: JCT 2011, design and build  

Value: £22m 

About the Project

As always with listed-building refurbishments, there were plenty of unwelcome surprises here. Thanks to Mark Turner’s calm, open and honest leadership, the client always knew what was going on, and that Mark had the best possible options for remedying the situation. 

Early on, he found that the lime plaster walls of the main hall – originally an 18th-century country house – and the 1920s-built classroom wings were in poorer condition than feared. Rather than simply redecorate regardless, as contracted, he alerted the client, and took on a much bigger repair programme. 

Even more serious was the discovery that the slate roofs of the classroom wings were in far worse condition than expected. The nails holding the gutter and fascias in place were extensively rusted, leaving slates liable to fall. Repair and replacement followed. 

Since he’d encountered significant rot in the timber trusses of the slate roofs, Mark advised also opening up the flat lead-covered roof over the main hall’s feature staircase. He got the go-ahead, and found that the timbers supporting a large rooflight had deteriorated badly, also threatening the historic mouldings inside it.  

This kind of news can poison a client relationship. But because he’d established a relationship of trust, Mark gained full acceptance for his proposals and the outcome: the replacement of the timbers and the manufacture and installation of identical mouldings from formers taken before their removal.