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Lego-style bricks used to protect Post Office façade as building is demolished

PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:42 16 October 2020

Mark Bailey of Barnes Construction is pictured outlining the work to protect the historic Cornhill post office front to councillor John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

Mark Bailey of Barnes Construction is pictured outlining the work to protect the historic Cornhill post office front to councillor John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

An engineering system that uses Lego-type bricks has been installed at the former post office in Bury St Edmunds town centre as the first stage of redevelopment work begins.

An impression of the old post office in Bury St Edmunds as it will look once works are complete  Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILAn impression of the old post office in Bury St Edmunds as it will look once works are complete Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCIL

The Victorian frontage at 17-18 Cornhill is being kept while the rest of the building behind, including parts which were added on at a later stage, is gradually being demolished.

West Suffolk Council bought the empty site in 2017, a year after the Post Office decided to relocate its business, now located on the first floor of WHSmith.

MORE: Work on former post office redevelopment could start next month after funding boost

The redevelopment, being carried out by Suffolk firm Barnes Construction working with its appointed architects, Concertus Design and Property Consultants, will deliver new ground floor commercial units with 12 flats above.

By widening Market Thoroughfare by more than 50 per cent and creating a new commercial frontage onto St Andrew’s Street South, the council will be delivering on some of the aims of the town centre masterplan, shaped by 8000 public comments.

The old post office in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREGG BROWNThe old post office in Bury St Edmunds Picture: GREGG BROWN

But the very first step is ensuring the protection of the historic Cornhill front, a job for Barnes’ structural engineers Superstructures.

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James Potter, managing director of Superstructures, said: “The retention of the existing post office façade is a complicated design process.

“Superstructures has designed a system that will clamp steel beams to the front and rear of the façade. This is then fixed onto triangular trusses that get supported at ground floor level.

“At the base of the temporary structure we have a mass of concrete blocks, a bit like Lego bricks, that will hold the structure in place until the new steel frame for the building is constructed behind. This will then provide the permanent support allowing the temporary structure to be removed.”

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John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “The Victorian front is an important part of our town’s history and heritage.

“From day one, our plan, and our challenge has been about how we keep this wonderful piece of architecture and bring it back into use, while also achieving the dramatic and important changes needed to Market Thoroughfare and St Andrew’s Street South.

“The structural engineering that will protect the Cornhill front is both complex and fascinating - and crucial to its success.”

Mark Bailey, director at Barnes Construction, added: “It is great to see the initial phase on the redevelopment of this landmark building in the centre of Bury St Edmunds taking shape. Once the façade retention is completed, we will be moving onto the careful removal of the building immediately behind and then the groundworks to support the new building.”


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