Topping out ceremony for new Music School

Topping out ceremony for new Music School

A topping-out ceremony was held for QE’s new Music School on the last day of term, marking an important milestone in the delivery of this key building.

Representatives of Queen Elizabeth’s School met with senior staff from contractors TJ Evers, architects Hollins and project manager Barkers Associates for the ceremony, which served to confirm the swift progress of the £3.5m project.

The climax of the event came when two Year 11 Music students – Theo Mama-Kahn and Jao-Yong Tsai – climbed to the roof and drilled in place a piece of ridge timber that had previously been signed by everyone present.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The Music School will represent a major addition to the School’s facilities, enabling us to meet the growing demands of our Music department and of the boys involved in our many extra-curricular musical ensembles.

“It has been exciting to watch it take shape and to know that, with the project running on time, our pupils and staff will be able to move in during the autumn. Our attention is now turning to funding the musical instruments and other equipment necessary to furnish it to the highest standards.”

The ceremony was led by John Blundell, Site Manager for TJ Evers, who explained a little of the history of topping out ceremonies, which have been held for hundreds of years, usually marking the point at which a new building attains its maximum height. As on this occasion, topping out ceremonies often include an opportunity for those present to sign the uppermost beam, or its equivalent, thus providing a record of the occasion for posterity.

After a welcome in what will become an atrium area, all present signed the final piece of roof timber. Mr Blundell pointed out different areas of the building and what they would be. From the atrium, guests could see through to where the new recital hall will be, as well as to two ground-floor classrooms.

When the party moved into the roof area, the ridge decking was lifted up on to the roof and put in position. The two boys, Jao-Yong and Theo, then went up the scaffolding and fixed it in place with a drill. Everyone then returned downstairs to the atrium for a toast with non-alcoholic bucks fizz.

The go-ahead for the project was confirmed in 2019, following a successful £2.2m bid to the Department for Education. The DfE package includes a £1.2m grant and £1m loan.

Director of Music Ruth Partington, who was among the guests at the ceremony, recently led a research process to choose the grand piano that will take pride of place in the recital hall. The School’s Foundation Trustees have agreed to pay for the selected Yamaha piano, valued at just under £75,000. A new Piano Fund aims to raise another £30,000 over the coming months to meet the associated costs of pianos and further equipment.”

Among those attending the ceremony with Mr Blundell were: Mervyn Denney, Managing Director (TJ Evers); Martin Croot, Contracts Manager (TJ Evers); Joe Richmond, Assistant Site Manager (TJ Evers); Rob Marsh-Feiley, Architect (Hollins), and the project manager for QE, David Mugliston, (Barkers Associates). The School’s other representatives, besides the Headmaster, Miss Partington and the boys, were: Tara O’Reilly, Deputy Head (Operations); James McEvoy-Stevenson, Assistant Director of Music; Hannah Morgan, Music teacher; Caroline Grint, Music teacher; Silvia Shann, Facilities Manager, and Matthew Rose, Head of Project Support Services.