A £3.9m construction project that will benefit hundreds of Merseyside students has opened its doors at Hugh Baird College.
Liverpool contractor Crossfield Construction completed the transformation of the former St Winefride’s Roman Catholic Church in Bootle into an exemplar training hub which will now be used by more than 200 health and social care students each day.
Funded by a Local Growth Fund grant provided by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority through its Single Investment Fund, the former church has returned to community life after an extensive 35-week programme of refurbishment, construction and fit-out work.
Comprising six teaching rooms, a state-of-the art simulation ward, a mezzanine IT space and a café, the former church has been sensitively restored to maintain several of its original features, including the marble altar, the sacrarium (sink for holy water) and the original spiral staircase.
Due to fire damage five months before work started on site, the church’s roof, much-loved stained-glass windows and parquet flooring could not be salvaged – however Hugh Baird College’s design team ensured these were recreated with modern alternatives, including specialist coloured glazing and an exposed beam ceiling.
With more than 90 per cent of Crossfield Construction’s 30-strong workforce from the local area and three former students of Hugh Baird College, Crossfield Construction’s team felt a strong connection to the project.
Scott Sherwood, project director for Crossfield Construction said: “It’s been a real privilege to work on such an important community focused project and with 70 per cent of our supply chain from the local area, it’s felt quite personal for us too. Student engagement was a key objective for the college and we’ve hosted more than 20 short-term placements and committed to one apprentice and one degree apprentice to ensure that this project provided a valuable learning experience as well as a fantastic building.
“The project hasn’t been without its challenges though, perhaps the biggest of which was the complexity of creating the new foundations for the mezzanine floor, which were positioned in the “folded in” cellars of the bombed houses which used to stand on this site. The end result strikes the perfect balance between sensitive restoration and modern fabrication and we’re thrilled that we’ve delivered Hugh Baird College’s vision and returned this much-loved building to community life on time and to budget.”
Pat Farrell, Head of Corporate and Capital Development for Hugh Baird College said: “The finished result is really quite astounding – we now have a fantastic new addition to the College’s facilities and we have been able to give St Winefride’s Church completely new lease of life and an important and continued role in at the heart of the local community.
“The Crossfield Construction team has worked especially hard to help us to save many of the old building’s features and they have completed the build to a very high standard. It’s been a labour of love for everyone involved but it has certainly been worth it as the feedback we’re receiving from students shows. They love the fact they’re learning in a building with character and because we involved them in the design and the selection of the furniture and other fixtures, they feel very invested in the project and proud of their new surroundings.”
Crossfield Construction is currently on-site delivering phase 2 of the St Winefride’s campus, which involves building a Life Rooms community hub on the footprint of the former presbytery. The new Life Rooms will provide practical life skills and mental health support for the local community and Hugh Baird College students and staff. In addition, work is already underway on a third phase to the project which will develop additional teaching and conference space.
Yana Williams, Hugh Baird College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “The creation of the St Winefride’s Campus with its Life Rooms facility and state-of-the-art Health Training Hub doesn’t just benefit the students of Hugh Baird College. It will have a far wider reach. The new campus will provide a community resource that is open to all who feel ready to take those important first steps to wellbeing.
“We have really enjoyed working in partnership with Crossfield Construction on this important local redevelopment project. When we were looking for a lead contractor for the project we undertook a thorough and rigorous tendering process. Crossfield Construction stood out for us because of their deep links with Liverpool and in particular the Bootle area.
“They also secured the contract because of the outstanding additional experiences they committed to providing our students. These experiences included site visits, guest speaker appearances at construction classes and job shadowing on the site. These have really enhanced our students’ learning experience and I would like to thank Crossfield Construction for the unique opportunities they have provided our students.”
“The Crossfield Construction team has worked especially hard to help us to save many of the old building’s features and they have completed the build to a very high standard”
“Crossfield Construction secured the contract because of the outstanding additional experiences they committed to providing our students. "These included site visits, guest speaker appearances at construction classes and job shadowing on the site. These have really enhanced our students’ learning experience and I would like to thank them for the unique opportunities they have provided our students”