High-speed building protects Concorde from the elements

Putting up buildings at supersonic speed is all in a day’s work for Paul Scott – and the sky’s the limit when it comes to what he and his team can achieve.

As Contracts Manager with structure specialist De Boer, Paul has just built a huge hangar to protect the flagship of the Concorde fleet at its final resting place at Manchester Airport. Complete with links to a hospitality suite, auditorium, exhibition space, café and airport viewing area, the ‘All Weather Hall’ will turn the iconic Concorde into an even more fantastic tourist attraction.

The new facility will shelter the Concorde aircraft from harsh weather and is due to be officially opened next month. It is part of a major project to upgrade the airport’s Aviation Viewing Park. Concorde’s new home may have been built at lightning speed but the plane has a super speedy reputation of its own after entering the record books for flying at a ground speed of 1,488 miles per hour – the fastest ever for a commercial airliner.

Paul, 43, of Solihull, West Midlands, who is married with a five-year-old son, says: “This has been an extremely exciting project to work on. Concorde is such an iconic aircraft and we have created a huge hangar with a stunning glass gable end which means that the aircraft can still be seen from outside. The hangar measures 33 metres by 66 metres and is physically linked to a visitor centre created in a separate All Weather Hall.”

Erecting amazing relocatable structures means there is never a dull moment for Paul at work. His recent projects with De Boer have involved building custodial units within existing prisons in Devon, Wiltshire and Kent. The initiative has helped ease the problem of overcrowding in the prison system.

Paul says: “We had to make sure that the prisoners couldn’t escape and as well as not getting out we had to stop them getting at each other. Each module is steel lined. The structures contain 30 two-man cells for 60 prisoners as well as communal facilities like showers and toilets, a laundrette and a servery for hot food. They also have a security office and rooms for staff. You have the atrium and the balconies and the stairs coming down from the cells.”

The beauty of the structures is that they can be put up quickly and easily in the grounds of existing prisons.

De Boer, whose UK operations are based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, is most famous for erecting marquees and giant exhibition halls for short-term rental at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Farnborough International Airshow and major sporting events such as the Ryder Cup.

In recent years the company has diversified by providing structures for longer-term use such as warehouses, baggage-handling facilities at airports, temporary supermarkets and stores so that they can go on trading while the shops undergo a major refit or are rebuilt after devastating fires.

When De Boer decided to take on the challenge of building more permanent structures like the prisons and the Concorde hangar Paul came on board bring additional construction-based skills to the team. Two years on, he loves the job despite often having to spend weekdays away from his wife and son.

Paul says: “These structures have the strength of traditional builds but so much versatility. The steel itself will last for 60 years-plus and the PVC for upwards of 25 years. Their most popular appeal to clients is the fact that they can be taken down and relocated to another site and the speed of the build process.”

For Paul it means that his job is exciting and varied. After completing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration he became a director of a double-glazing company. It was his first taste of dealing with sealed units. He then worked for a company that specialised in timber-framed buildings until he switched to work on modular building projects.

His role at De Boer as Contracts Manager involves liaising with designers, contract negotiations, purchasing, site management and most importantly problem solving. Paul says: “The structures are designed and manufactured off site and then transported to the job where I have responsibility for making it happen. I have to be good at multi-tasking. For this type of job you have to have a broad range of skills from management to getting involved with the front-end concept to delivery.”

Paul adds: “It can be a painful process sometimes when you hit glitches but it does give you a sense of pride when you see a project come together like the prisons or Concorde’s new home.”

Despite being the second Concorde off the production line, the aircraft being housed at Manchester was always considered to be the flagship of the British Airways fleet. It carried the registration plate BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) – the forerunner to BA.

The aircraft went on display in the open air after arriving at Manchester on October 31, 2003. Its final flight – from Heathrow – had followed nearly three decades of service transporting passengers around the world. The plane had even earned its place in the record books when it flew at 1,488 mph, the highest recorded ground speed for a commercial airliner.

The contract at Manchester Airport builds on De Boer’s considerable experience within the airport and aviation industry. Previous contracts have included the supply of restaurant and storage facilities at London’s Heathrow, the creation of a baggage-handling hall at Amsterdam’s Schiphol and the erection of a production unit at Cardiff International for LSG Sky Chefs, the world’s largest airline caterer.

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