New Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction Apr-May 2020

New Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction project (April-May)

Just as the Covid-19 lockdown started at the end of March 2020, I was hired by Elite Systems GB to document the construction of a new isolation ward at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. I’ve been going to the site once or twice a week through April and May, taking pictures of every stage of the build. It’s anticipated that the new ward will be handed over to the Royal Surrey Hospital in late June or early July.

The aim of this construction project is to create a new 20-bed isolation ward for the hospital in record time, not only to cater for coronavirus patients but also to expand the hospital’s future capacity to look after patients with other infectious diseases. Elite Systems’ modular building approach was really the only way that such a facility could be put together in a period of 8-10 weeks, with the sections of the building being constructed and partially fitted out at Elite’s factory in Cleckheaton while groundworks were under way on site.

Of course I had official permission to work on this series of shoots during lockdown and also observed social distancing while working (which has been mostly outdoors). In a way it was slightly disappointing not to be stopped by the police as I had my authorization letter from the NHS ready to show them! 🙂

It’s been a fascinating project to follow – seeing how an innovative building method is used to create vitally-needed extra capacity for the NHS in the shortest possible time.

Clearing the site

The first step was to clear the site, at the front of the hospital alongside Gill Avenue. Local groundwork specialists McLoughlin Groundwork took on the task, removing some trees and levelling the site to make a suitable space for the buildings.

Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction - the site before work started Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction - excavator beginning work clearing the site Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction - progress on removing turf and topsoil and levelling the site Elite Systems GB team and contractors discuss the Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction project

Foundations for the Royal Surrey Hospital Isolation Ward

Once the site had been cleared and levelled, the next stage was to dig trenches and fill them with concrete to make foundations to support the new building. I was surprised how deep the trenches were but it didn’t take long for them to be filled with poured concrete.

Concrete pads were then placed on top at intervals to support each building module. Meanwhile drainage pipes and other services were also being installed.

A concrete mixer truck arrives at the Royal Surrey Hospital site bringing concrete to pour for the foudnations of the new isolation ward Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction - pouring the concrete foundations support pads for the modular units to build the new Royal Surrey Hospital isolation ward

In this aerial view you can see the foundations and the array of concrete pads to support the modular buildings. The mobile crane is on site ready to lift the first building module into position.

Bringing in the building modules

By the 12th May, everything was ready for the first of the building sections to be craned into position. The modules travelled down from Elite Systems’ factory in Cleckheaton on a series of articulated trucks. Each module was equipped with lifting eyes at the corners and along the sides, so that the crane operators could attach chains for the lift. After each module was craned on to the site, the protective sheeting and wooden framing was removed and then the module was lifted into its final position.

Ainscough Crane Hire’s mobile crane is a very impressive beast – they cost a million pounds each, apparently – if you fancy buying one!

Beginning to fit out the interior of the modules

Almost as soon as the first modules were in place, work began on fitting out the interior. A lot of the basic work had already been done at Elite Systems’ factory, but connections to pipework between the modules had to be made, fitting of special anti-bacterial wall panelling and flooring, and of course lots of electrical and other wiring and installation of air-conditioning, lighting and sanitary ware.

That brings the story up to the end of May 2020… in the next instalment I’ll cover the completion of the project and the handover to the hospital.

If you have a similar construction project that you’d like documented for social media, your website, print use, and for your portfolio – please contact me for more information – I’m happy to help!

New Royal Surrey Hospital ward construction project (April-May)

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