WITH less than 11 months until the new Thurrock Campus of South Essex College opens to new and returning students in Grays town centre, the College, Skanska – main contractor on the new build – and Thurrock Council celebrate the £45 million building’s topping out ceremony.
Topping out is a phrase commonly used to describe the traditional celebration of the completion of the building’s main structure.
It’s a momentous occasion for the new college building, which has sprung up at the end of Grays High Street in what seems to be next to no time and is sure to make a positive difference and impact to the local area as it buzzes with student life.
It is all a far cry from only nine months earlier when the ground was formally broken by Principal and Chief Executive of South Essex College, Angela O’Donoghue, who returned to the site to be part of the topping out ceremony.
She said: “It’s hard to imagine that that area was flat and practically nothing was here just nine months ago. In less than 12 months we’ll be open to students and delivering a wide range of courses to help upskill young people and get them the right training, right skills and right qualifications they need to get ahead.
“That isn’t just our dream, it was also a dream very close to the heart of Cllr Diana Hale, who always played a full and active part in Thurrock education issues and was pivotal in having the vision to get us where we stand today. We dedicate this topping out to her memory and legacy.
“Looking ahead, September 2014 really will be an exciting time to be a part of South Essex College, as a member of staff and certainly as a student, and this topping-out ceremony marks an important step toward that completion and the turning of the dream of a new town centre Thurrock Campus into a reality for all in Thurrock, Grays and beyond.”
The Mayor of Thurrock, representatives from the Council and from Skanska, and from other companies involved, were on hand to celebrate this key point in the construction of this ambitious project.
Paul Chandler, Executive Vice President, Skanska, said: “Modern construction techniques, such as 3D modelling, continuous flight auger piling and prefabricated modules have helped to deliver a sustainable building that is set to achieve a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating. The building also uses technology such as rainwater harvesting to provide water for the toilet systems.
“Students will enjoy a modern learning environment, easily accessible from Grays town centre – somewhere to inspire them to achieve the qualifications they need to follow their chosen career paths. We are delighted to have worked with the college and the council to build this facility and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the students who graduate from its construction courses.”
The new Thurrock Campus in Grays isn’t just about a physical building – it is very much about what happens inside and the positive impact on the local young people who will be benefitting from its exceptional resources.
It may just be an empty shell now but come next September the College will have unrivalled specialist workshop and studio spaces linked to courses for technology, media and creative arts – and industry-standard facilities for construction, logistics, engineering and IT courses.
There will also be key areas available for public and community use. Hair and beauty salons, a restaurant and coffee shop will be open to the public and are destined to breathe new life into Grays, ensuring that the whole community enjoys the positive impact the new Thurrock Campus of South Essex College will bring.
Graham Farrant, Chief Executive of Thurrock Council, concluded: “This development is the keystone of a new and re-invigorated Grays and a new-look and aspirational Thurrock.
“These buildings with thousands of students and their tutors will enable Grays to recapture the hustle and bustle of previous years and become a town that will attract exciting new businesses and stores, a town that will thrive.
“These buildings will also play host to many of the young people who will go on to lead Thurrock’s exciting future, young people learning the skills necessary to become the movers and shakers in the new industries here.
“This is just the next step in fulfilling our vision of making Thurrock a place of opportunity, enterprise and excellence, where individuals, communities and businesses flourish.”