School’s ‘topping out’ milestone celebrated

Gildredge House topping out ceremony SUS-140725-162233001
Gildredge House topping out ceremony SUS-140725-162233001

The new £11.8 million school in Eastbourne has reached a milestone at a special ‘topping out’ ceremony.

The ceremony, to mark the structural completion of the new building was held by Gildredge House Free School in conjunction with Willmott Dixon, which has carried out the building work.

The traditional ‘topping out’ ceremony was attended by Eastbourne mayor Janet Coles and was watched by students, senior teachers, parents and governors. The event comes as the school looks forward to opening its doors to 176 more students in September.

Willmott Dixon has been working on the 76-week scheme since May last year. The school, which is being built on the site of the former Dental Practice Board, will be housed in a build area of 12,307 square metres. Works have included the demolition of single storey buildings, construction of a three court sports hall, a new performance space and a three storey extension. Newly landscaped play spaces and a large multi-use games area have also been provided.

The works will complement the imposing original Victorian buildings, which a century ago housed Temple Grove Preparatory School, and the refurbished buildings which were added at the time of the Dental Practice Board in the 1950s and 1960s.

Gildredge House opened its doors to the first 176 students in September last year. The school will continue this pattern at the start of each academic year and it has also recently been given permission to open its Sixth Form in September 2015. The school will be up to its full capacity of 1,232 pupils by 2019.

Lea Gilbert, headmistress, said, ”We’re extremely pleased with the progress our builders, Willmott Dixon, have made on our school in only 14 months. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with them as they cleverly transformed the buildings around us into remarkably bright and spacious learning environments. This ceremony allows us to acknowledge what a vital addition our new buildings will be to our facilities. As with everything about our brand new school, it is wonderful to see our collective vision becoming a reality and to take the time to celebrate our great achievement so far. Our Lower School extension, will provide much-needed places for children.”