Suffolk: Jackson Civil Engineering and SEH Commercial secure tidal barrier contract

TWO Suffolk-based companies have been working on a refurbishment of the UK second-biggest flood barrier.

The Hull Tidal Surge Barrier, built in 1980 at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary, protects nearly 17,000 homes and business from tidal flooding and is closed about 12 times a year.

Ipswich-based Jackson Civil Engineering, part of the SEH group, was contracted by the Environment Agency to refurbish the structure.

And its sister company, SEH Commercial, has now completed a refurbishment of its windows – a type of work seldom involved in coastal defence projects.

Andrew Newton, projects team manager at the Environment Agency, said: “In our business we don’t have a great deal of involvement with windows so for Jacksons to be able to offer their relationship with a venerable window firm like SEH Commercial as part of the group structure to be involved in the project, was certainly a valuable asset when we were looking at the bids for the contract.”

The �10million refurbishment project called for the two-metre-long mullions which hold the barrier’s 550 glazing panels in place to be replaced to maintain health and safety levels and weather-proofing. SEH Commercial extracted the panels, replaced 10 with new glazing panes and re-installed the originals once the mullions were in place.

The Hull surge barrier, which in the UK ranks in size second only to the Thames barrier, features two towers, set either side of the waterway, which house the barrier motors in the top of them and are connected by a 25 metre high enclosed walkway.

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Part of the main refurbishment, necessary as a result of the harsh coastal environment which regularly pounds the barrier, included a synchronisation shaft running through the walkway to improve the efficiency of the machinery.

The 30-metre-wide gate, which weighs 212 tonnes, has protected Kingston-upon-Hull from the effects of more than 30 high tidal surges since it opened in April 1980, including a record high surge in November last year, while the work was in progress.

Working at height and on such a structure required specialist skills which SEH Commercial’s specialist fenestration teams have, along with accreditations such as CHAS, Safe Contractor, and Constructionline. Paul Hickin, site manager for Jackson Civil Engineering, said: “SEH Commercial did what we expected of them and were very accommodating, especially due to the constraints put on the project by the weather. We are now planning further additional works on the barrier with SEH.”