WHILE work on the new University Technical College is progressing well, the process of transforming one of the town’s most historic buildings has thrown up some surprises.
Being built on the old Great Western Mill Site, off Bristol Street, the UTC will cater for 600 students aged 14 to 19 and focus on offering an engineering based education.
It will see a new structure built inside the original structures.
Last month builders discovered a nineteenth century multitubular boiler still in decent condition underneath the old building while the task of putting a new building up has presented some of its own challenges.
“I’ve obviously never found anything like that before,” said site manager Craig Madders.
“We were digging a trench around to lay the foundations when we came across it. I think the UTC is looking to see if Swindon Heritage want to make use of it.
“Putting a new building inside of an old one is presenting a few challenges. We need to make sure there is no extra weight put on the old building while making sure the new one is not too light to cope with the wind which will be created.
“Some of the beams in the original structure are from 1868 but still going strong. You will be able to see them when the final building is finished.”
Tonnes of earth being moved to make way for the new building, which is taking shape on the site of the old Great Western Mill
Away from the construction site, progress is being made on making sure everything is ready in time for its September opening.
So far there are more than 150 declarations of interest with more than 70 signed up. From February 1 students will start being informed if they have places, although applications can still be put through after that date.
“It’s just been fantastic so far and I am really pleased with the amount of local support we have received,” said Angela Barker-Dench, the UTC’s principal.
“I have been pleased with the number of applications and more people are contacting us by the day to find out more or to register.
“It’s been hard work raising the profile as we have no Ofsted reports or league tables to fall back on but now people are aware of what we are about the interest is growing.
“Soon we will be able to announce large parts of the new curriculum which will encompass many of the new engineering courses the Government have announced this year.”
Angela will be holding walk-in sessions for anyone who wants to find out more information every Thursday from 4pm until 7pm at the Oxford Brookes University Building in Ferndale Road.