Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Phase 2 behind the scenes: When the builders go home ....

Work on Phase 2 is now into its second half. Despite the inevitable disruption, the meeting house continues to provide facilities for a wide range of community groups throughout the building works.

The renovation and extension work is challenging for all concerned. Our builders continue to deal with an awkward site, not helped by extensive work on a neighbouring building in Friargate, restricting access from the already narrow street.

Users of the meeting house are accepting the temporary changes and inconveniences well, thanks in no small part to the efforts of our meeting house staff.

The building work itself is making good progress and first improvements are now taking shape. The ground floor toilets have now been remodelled, for example, as this collage of the work shows:

However, most of the ongoing progress remains hidden, of course. Users of the building see nothing of what is going on behind the blocked-off section of the foyer where formerly the library was located ....

But now, thanks to photos by Tasha Heny, our meeting house manager, we have the opportunity to see something of  what is going on behind the scenes. 

Much construction work is carried out in a vast scaffolding tent, located over the garden terrace.

Here, as of mid-October are some of the parts of the building seen after the builders have gone home at the end of the working day:

The link corridor on the new upper floor, alongside the main meeting room complete with temporary guttering.

View down into the main meeting room from the new link corridor.

Room 1
 The rooms for small groups, consultations and interviews are also taking shape on the new upper floor:
Room 2

Room 3, towards the corridor
Room 4

Friday, 24 July 2015

Phase II about to start now

Next week work is going to start on Phase II. This week our staff have been kept really busy. This phase of the work is on the ground floor and impinges on many of the public areas, whilst for many people Phase 1 was out of site on the garden level of the building.

So many areas of the meeting house need to be cleared out ready for building action over the summer. A huge task for those involved, whilst maintaining lettings as far as possible. The library and all its books are also being moved, which in itself is no small task.

An added unforeseen complication has been caused by the start of major renovation and building works directly opposite to us in Friargate, of which we had been unaware – until last Sunday morning the scaffolders moved in and blocked off access to Friargate.

This means added difficulties for access in that narrow little street which is Friargate, as well as the removal of all the public bike racks there.  And these were part of the arrangements for visitors to the meeting house while our own bike parking facilities are out of action during the building works ...

Great to see how Tasha, Phyllis and Helen are coping with everything cropping up each day with such calm and competence.

And good to see how the final part of the Friargate Project takes off.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

A sneak preview of Phase II

Our architects have prepared some 3-D impressions of the exterior of the meeting house after the completion of Phase II.

Here's the view from the garden, with the Garden Room / Quiet Room tower on the left (already built as part of Phase I). The connecting section to the new rooms and the new rooms themselves are on the new upper floor.

And here's the view from the end of the terrace on the ground floor:

The new rooms are on the new upper floor on the right of the picture. Access from the terrace is also possible to the Quiet Room, the main meeting room, the new lift and stairs.

And finally, here's a bird's eye view, looking down onto the whole project:

Monday, 6 July 2015

Friargate Phase 2: Ready for the Off!

Now that the financing arrangements of the remaining works are in place, York Area Meeting Trustees have given the green light for the second phase to start.

Work is due to start later this month:

  • Underpinning part of the building;
  • Moving the library, ready for the creation of the new seating area;
  • The addition of new rooms on an upper floor;
  • Refurbishment of the present cloakrooms;
  • Various improvements to the ground floor area.


Tasha, our meeting house manager, is looking for offers of practical help from 20th July on, in moving the library contents, and on 25th for clearing rooms and moving furniture. 
She would like you to contact her as soon as possible if you can lend a hand.


The group co-ordinating the works has helpfully given some indications of arrangements and timetable ahead.

Building work starts on Monday 27th July and is due to finish on Friday 27th November.

The main entrance to Friargate Meeting House will be available at all times during the contract, as will the disabled WC. 
On Sundays only, the downstairs toilets will be accessible through the Fell Room.

Children’s’ meetings will be all-age, and take place in the Fox Room.
ork on the ground floor toilets will mean that there will be no access to ladies or gents facilities, probably until September

The kitchen will be available on Sundays and usually during the week, but may be closed from time to time when specific building operations are carried out from the scaffolding overhead.

The present library, the Penn Room and the Quiet Room will be out of use for the duration of the contract.

U3A, AA, and users of the rooms on the garden level will access the basement area from Clifford Street only.

The outer lobby at the front of the building will be used by the contractors as an office for the site foreman, and the patio and side passageway as a materials store

The white gates will only be used to access the Assistant Manager’s house and the Fox Room. The passageway will be fenced off, similar to the arrangements in Phase one.

Bikes should be locked to the racks on Friargate.

During August the Meeting House will normally be closed.  Staff can only guarantee to be open 10-12 Monday to Friday if there are bookings already in the diary.  If Friends need access to the building, for whatever reason, please contact the Meeting House staff in advance and they will be as helpful as they can be.  August will be used for staff holidays, cleaning and ‘catching up’. 

From September Friends will be able to call in to the Meeting House as usual, at the opening times of 10-4, Monday - Friday, but are asked to be aware that building operations are going on and to comply with any requirements or restrictions which are there in the interests of safety.                                            

Thursday, 19 March 2015

UPDATE 3 now ready

The next edition of our project newsletter is now finished. It's already online on our website yorkquakers.org.uk.

Hard copies are now also printed, again on our 100% recycled paper of choice. (By using this paper, on one edition of Update we 79 litres of water, 16.3 kWh of electricity and 7.5kg of wood pulp.)

Next week we'll be inserting a copy into each edition of Quakevine, York's monthly Quaker newsletter. Copies will also be distributed around the Area Meeting, and to users of our meeting house. Visitors will be able to pick one up on the round table near the entrance of Friargate.

The newsletter takes stock of what has been achieved so far, and sets the scene for Phase 2 of the development, due to begin this summer. In July, the next edition will set out Phase 2 in more detail.

Update 3 – available at Friargate and online at yorkquakers.org.uk

Behind the scenes

Details of Phase 2 are still being settled. Apart from the four new rooms on a new upper floor (accessible of course via our new lift), the street level foyer will undergo something of a transformation, with the present library room being opened up to make a seating and reading area.

This will also mean that natural light from the terrace will brighten the entrance lobby, and the shortening of the corridor will mean that The Quiet Room will become easier to reach and a more visible part of the overall concept.

And while we're at it …
Quite a few other improvements will enhance the meeting house experience for visitors. Increased soundproofing, a new additional entrance for the main meeting room, some new carpets, and last but not least the upgrading and refurbishing of our main cloakroom areas.

The costing of the works is still being finalised by all involved, but at the moment it looks as if a target of around £390,000 will be likely.

Fundraising has already started. As with Phase 1, this will include realising investments, donations, grant applications, special events, and, it is hoped financial support from within our Area Meeting. For the first time, interest-free loans will be part of the overall package.

At the beginning of March, fundraisers already contacted all members of Friargate meeting regarding donations and loans. In the light of the low interest returns on savings in the wider economy, this seems to be a practical way of underwriting the financial future our Quaker meeting and helping to fund a resource for the local community. Already a number of offers have come in, a very promising start.

In March the Fundraising Group sent out an appeal letter to Friargate Friends

Phase 2 on track for 2015

It is almost a year since the completion of Phase 1 of the Friargate Project. The Quiet Room is in use, both for access during the day and for use by groups in the evenings. The U3A groups seem very pleased with the light and airy rooms on the garden level.

And the Woolman Room, so long plagued by damp problems via its historic underground wall, has now become one of our most popular rooms. It's now an inviting venue, with its own separate access.

The Garden Room is proving an excellent choice for smaller groups and committees, both because of its convenient set-up flexibility and on account of its quiet garden setting.

And in the meantime, committees, volunteers, staff and contractors have been taking stock, ready for Phase 2 which we hope will be completed in 2015.

The new Woodman Room set up for a small group presentation