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Beard starts work on St John’s College historic library refurbishment

Beard starts work on £10m St John’s College historic library refurbishment
Oxford-based Beard Construction is set to start work on the £10m refurbishment of the historic library at St John’s College in Oxford.

Beard - the Oxford-based construction firm - is set to start work on the third and final phase of a major refurbishment of a historic library within the grounds of one of the UK’s most important architectural sites.

The award-winning family-run firm, which specialises in the education sector, will be onsite from this month at St John’s College in Oxford to start work on a £10m project to refurbish the Old Library and Laudian Library located in the Canterbury Quadrangle.

The site is not only world-famous as a seat of learning. It is also Grade 1 listed, as it is one of the few remaining examples in the UK of the high baroque architectural style dating back to the early 17th century.

The final phase of work is expected to be finished by early 2023, and it consists of the refurbishment of the College’s existing Laudian Library and Old Library, with the remodelling of an area known as the Paddy Room under the Old Library.

The Paddy Room area underwent a refurbishment in the 1970s, which will be removed as part of the new work to reinstate the rooms that existed previously.

Beard has won several contracts from the University of Oxford in recent years, appointed due to the quality of their work and faultless delivery for phase one of the project and a track record across the broader education sector.

Dean Averies, Oxford Director at Beard, said: “This is an incredibly prestigious building to be working on and our previous experience of working on phase one of the refurbishment means we are well placed to complete the piece.

“As a construction firm, we have always been very aware that a building is much more than just a building; they are spaces for learning, working and living.

“Generations of students and academics have formed an emotional attachment with this very important space, and it’s our job to ensure future generations do the same.

“Working on a Grade 1 listed site has its own challenges, and of course, there are the ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus. But we have a lot of experience working on this kind of site in Oxford, and elsewhere.

“We have also established best practice to ensure all our sites are Covid-secure as wherever we work, we always want our people to get home safely.”

Beard traces its origins back to the summer of 1892 when its founder Edward William Beard started working for his father at the age of 14. Today, the firm is headed up by the fourth generation of the Beard family, Mark Bear.

Over the years, the company has developed a range of skill sets, including a combination of traditional building skills and modern construction management techniques, that enable the delivery of challenging and award-winning projects.

Zoe Hancock, Principal Bursar at St John’s College, said: “This is a very important project for St John’s College and a site, which sits at the heart of the College.

“We’re pleased to see Beard back on site for this final stage of the Library project, following their successful work at a previous phase. A site of such national importance requires sensitive handling and a high calibre of expertise and quality of work which we are confident Beard will be able to deliver.”

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