Haig Colliery Mining Museum, Cumbria

Client: Haig Colliery Mining Museum

Architect:  Hurd Rolland Partnership

Contractor: Armstrong Contractors

Value: £2.4 million

Thomasons played a key role in a major new build and refurbishment project to upgrade Haig Colliery Mining Museum in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Following the closure of Haig Colliery in 1986, the original Powerhouse was retained as a museum, together with an original headgear frame which pulled the lift up from the mine.

The complex 18-month project involved building a new visitor centre, refurbishing the Powerhouse and renovating the badly-corroded headgear frame. It required sustainable engineering solutions that were sympathetic to the museum’s heritage while meeting the restrictions of a tight heritage budget.

Thomasons designed the structure of the visitor centre, which has sloping black external walls and circular timber columns to reference coal and pit props.

The building’s stability was achieved through a combination of vertical cantilever action of the timber columns, diaphragm action of the ply walls and cable cross bracing within the wall construction.

The Powerhouse is Grade II listed and designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Thomasons specified repairs to the brickwork and concrete to ensure the building’s long-term structural integrity and installed a new floor to create new exhibition space. The composite steel floor construction is supported on an irregular grid of columns which sit on the existing concrete plinths.

Great care was needed in the renovation of the Grade II listed headgear machinery. Thomasons recommended that the steelwork should be manually wire brushed to remove surface corrosion and devised a scheme to strengthen the structure in order to achieve maximum benefit within a limited budget.

“Thomansons was incredibly professional, knew exactly what they were doing and we trusted their decisions implicitly.  It’s very difficult to find engineers who really understand historic structures such as headgear and their renovation work was amazing. In every aspect of their work we had complete confidence in their expertise. They were practical, down to earth, kept us informed at every turn and overall did a fabulous job.”  Pamela Telford Operations Manager, Haig Colliery Mining Museum




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