Restoration: South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough

Restoration: South Cliff Gardens
The original Victorian features of the shelters were carefully restored

Andrew Thorley of PBS Construction talks through its £7m restoration of South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough.

This major restoration project began last year and has been challenging, but also very rewarding. The extensive renovations include a fully accessible path on the Victorian Cliff running through South Cliff Gardens, as well as a new play area, general refurbishment to signs, railings and footpaths, and repairs and renovations to 13 of the historic shelters.

Andrew Thorley CV

Contracts manager, PBS, March 2020-present
Site manager, PBS, 2012-March 2020
Ganger/site foreman, Wold Construction, 2005-2012
Ganger, 1999-2005, East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Key projects

B1444 Junction Improvements, North East Lincolnshire Council
Station Plaza Stage 1, Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Cleethorpes Regeneration, North East Lincolnshire Council

The grade II-listed clock tower at the top of the gardens has also been repaired and restored. A new community hub was built, as well as a polytunnel and solar panels fitted to it.

Our first real challenge was the lack of access to the gardens and we had to think laterally about how to achieve that. One of the first things we did was purchase a Suzuki mini-van which helped us to get materials – and operatives – down the footways and into the areas where they needed to be.

We also used mini-track dumpers and all materials had to be taken down in small quantities, which meant the duration of the job was longer than it would have been under normal circumstances.

Land drainage challenge

The biggest challenge was the design and installation of land drainage. Much of it was running down cliff faces – and we had to devise a method of doing that by hand in areas, due to tree roots. In the end, we used a series of handrails and were digging in steps as we went along digging out the trench. It was not too dissimilar to how the Romans would have done it.

Restoration of the heritage shelters was another big task as we had to reuse existing timber where possible while introducing new timber for any that was beyond repair. This required the use of some really intricate mouldings to maintain the original Victorian features.

A new community building (Beeforth’s Hive) has been constructed as part of the project
Renovations include a fully accessible path on the Victorian Cliff

We worked during two summer seasons on the job and that in itself brought a different type of challenge. During peak times there have been a lot of local residents and tourists and we’ve had to think carefully about working around them. This meant a lot of thought going into footway closures and diversions, as we’ve tried to keep the gardens as accessible as possible.

There are a number of local businesses to consider too. We’ve communicated with them on a regular basis to try and keep disruption to a minimum.

Our community engagement was key. Before the project started, we delivered 2,000 leaflets to local residents and business and we’ve produced a newsletter every month. We also conducted site tours for the public every month. Offering people the opportunity to find out finer details on those site tours was a real positive for everyone involved.

Andrew Thorley is contracts manager with PBS Construction.

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