6th July 2021

Engineering on track at Swindon’s Carriage Works

The UK is rich with listed buildings, showcasing the country’s diverse architectural and aesthetic heritage. Although many of these are currently in a state of disrepair, they offer exciting refurbishment opportunities for developers, while also preserving historic features and avoiding the significant carbon impact of new build.

Until recently, the Carriage Works, located within walking distance of Swindon station and town centre, was counted among these, having been under-used and neglected for decades. Built as part of Brunel’s Great Western Works, the iconic Grade-II listed group of buildings date back to circa 1876.

Seeing an opportunity to cultivate a business innovation centre for SMEs, higher education and research bodies, in 2017, Swindon Borough Council (SBC) started the first of four phases to breathe new life into the Carriage Works. Completed in August 2018, Phase 1 saw the creation of ‘The Workshed’, a 14 000 sq ft business incubation centre contained within Units 3 and 5.

Swindon Carriage Works

Funded through the Heritage Action Zone, Getting Building Fund and Swindon Borough Council direct investment, Phase 2 comprises the creation of modern workspaces in Units 7 and 9 for incoming tenants to be announced later this year.

Perega has been appointed as structural engineers for the design of Phase 2, for RIBA stages 1 to 6, under the Professional Services for Heritage Assets Framework Agreement.

Technical director Alan Lace-Evans is leading on the project, which includes detailing a new mezzanine in Unit 7 and making structural repairs to the brick jack arches at lower ground below the units along London Street.

Original plans for Phase 2 saw the jack arches replaced with reinforced concrete ones spanning between the existing ground floor beams. However, as a significant feature, representative of the era in which the building was constructed, there is now a push to preserve these if possible. This will be a challenge though, as most of the original arches are currently structurally unstable and therefore being propped.

Where any new internal or external structures are to be built, Perega will undertake investigations of the condition of the ground, floor slabs and foundation. Any solutions implemented, will integrate minimal structural intervention, with modern construction processes.

Alan Lace-Evans

Alan comments: “With such a rich architectural history, I’m pleased Swindon Borough Council is incorporating the original Carriage Works structures in its extensive regeneration plans. Not only is it a celebration of what came before, it also acknowledges that building new isn’t always the best option, especially when we can work with the existing fabric to create a fresh, updated space for future generations to use and enjoy.”

Due to complete in Spring 2022, Phase 2 will bring SBC a step closer to its aim of improving Swindon’s reputation, raising awareness of the town’s railway heritage and encouraging inward investment.