Heritage North East & Yorkshire

Refurbishing Durham Castle

Durham Castle

An extensive refurbishment project to upgrade and improve facilities at Durham Castle – home to Durham’s University College – is now complete.

The main contractor for the £5 million project was Miller Construction and the project was completed in early 2012.

Phase One began in July 2011 and was largely centred on improving the Great Hall, kitchen and dining facilities. As part of the project, the kitchen equipment was completely stripped-out and the kitchen upgraded to transform it into a commercial kitchen.

Alterations and improvements were also made to the Castle’s keep and the junction between the keep and the Castle’s northern range of buildings, whilst additional work included the restoration of chandeliers, timber rafters, radiators and oak panelling.

Phase Two involved the upgrading of student accommodation to include en-suite facilities. The residential areas of the building were reconfigured to accommodate the new bathrooms, whilst new joinery mouldings and fittings were also incorporated.

Thirty-six en suite pods were supplied by Taplanes Ltd. The pods incorporate a WC, washbasin, shower fitments, lighting and extraction units. Metal stud work and plasterboard were subsequently positioned around the pod to create a ‘built in’ appearance with the en suite pod door matching the Walnut bedroom furniture. This blended in well with the surrounding décor.

Due to the building’s significant historical value, all original features were maintained and carefully protected during the refurbishment process.  This included protecting doorways and entry points whilst materials were being brought onto the site and modelling all fixtures and fittings to match existing features.

University College Bursar, Michelle Crawford, said:

“We are delighted with the refurbishment and the Castle’s facilities have been transformed from 1 star to anticipated 4 star Visit England grading. The Great Hall, servery, kitchen and bedrooms look fantastic, and provide a great community setting for students to live in and a majestic venue for weddings.”

Durham Castle

Durham Castle was constructed as a Norman fortress and is a Grade 1 listed building which forms part of Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 11th century castle was home to the Bishops of Durham until 1837 when it was handed over to Durham University by Bishop Van Mildert, who founded the institution. It has been the home of Durham University’s University College ever since.

University College currently provides educational services for 700 undergraduates and 150 post-graduates, whilst the Castle provides term-time accommodation for 339 students. It also receives tens of thousands of visitors per year and is used for special events and functions including daily conferences.

Miller Construction Regional Managing Director, Ian Jubb, said:

“We are delighted to have completed the student residences at Durham Castle on behalf of University College, Durham University. This was an extremely challenging yet exciting project for the team to work on, in terms of surroundings and historical importance. The biggest challenge we faced whilst on-site was working to preserve the original, historical features of the building.

“We worked very closely with Durham County Council Conservation Department throughout the project, which enabled us to fully understand the limitations and restrictions of working within a World Heritage Site. We are confident that the students will benefit from their newly refurbished facilities whilst still being able to enjoy and appreciate the original features of the Castle.”

Miller Construction 

As one of the largest construction companies in the UK, Miller Construction designs, develops, builds and manages projects in both the public and private sector. This includes working on projects for the rail, retail, education and commercial sectors as well as for a number of community regeneration projects.

The company is led by a professional and experienced management team that employs a collaborative approach to work and it is this ethos that has helped Miller Construction to maintain long-lasting relationships with both clients and partners. Miller Construction is also very proud of their health and safety records and has a zero-tolerance approach towards unsafe working practices.

Miller Construction always aims to exceed the expectations of clients and as part of the Miller Group provides services for the whole life of a project.

The company has been awarded Investors in People accreditation for over 10 years.

V.N.C Cleaning Ltd 

V.N.C Cleaning Ltd provide specialist cleaning services for both new build and refurbishment projects. The company tailor their services to meet the individual requirements of their clients and have previously worked on projects including Durham University, Theatre Royal in Newcastle, Hartlepool College of Further Education and many other high profile projects.

VNC Cleaning Ltd Managing Director, Victoria Madrell, said:

“For Durham Castle and Library we provided ongoing cleaning services, with the final ‘sparkle work’ taking place during and after contractors had completed their work. Our involvement on the project culminated with the final handover being achieved on schedule.

“Great care was taken during each operation and we were very privileged to be given the opportunity to be involved with these high profile projects.

“Detail and commitment to the finished project is of utmost importance to both companies and we are very proud to provide our services to Miller Construction. We have an excellent working relationship with Miller Construction and they are a very professional company.”

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