Demolition of the old swimming pool at the region’s top independent day school, Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School (RGS), heralds the start of the next phase in the development of the school’s estate.

The pool, originally built in 1930 and located at the junction of Jesmond’s Eskdale Terrace and Lambton Road, will be replaced by a new library, art block, maths and science and assembly space over the three floors – the new library forming a statement on the corner junction of Lambton Road.

Valued at around £7m and measuring some 2,600sqm, it is the third phase of redevelopment work to have taken place at RGS in recent years.

The project also sees the return to RGS of the award-winning Howarth Litchfield, one of the largest architectural and interior design practices in the region, as architect, interior designer and CDM co-ordinator.

Howarth Litchfield was responsible for submitting the original planning application for the library development last year as well as the more recent revised detailed designs, which have now been given the go-ahead by Newcastle City Council.

Going forward, Howarth Litchfield will work closely with the new headmaster, John Fern and bursar, Mike Pitkethly, over the appointment of a contractor with construction work due on site at the beginning of July 2018 and completion anticipated in August 2019, in readiness for the new academic year.

MGL Group, responsible for the demolition, worked over the summer to remove loose and recoverable items from the building, making considerable progress on the soft strip such as carpets and light fittings with the demolition of the building shell taking place in early October.

Howarth Litchfield enjoys a 15-year relationship with RGS and has been heavily involved in the roll out of its masterplan since 2011, just two years ago handing over the new swimming pool with sports hall and associated facilities which the firm designed to replace the old pool after it had reached the end of its lifespan.

Commenting on the start of this next phase, Howarth Litchfield, director, Neil Turner, said:

“We are delighted to be working with RGS again on this major redevelopment project and should like to take this opportunity to thank the planning and conservation teams at Newcastle City Council for their assistance to date in the demolition and planning sequence of the project.

“Great care has been taken to preserve some elements of the building because of their artistic or architectural value.  For example, we will be relocating the stained glass from the lecture theatre which was on the school’s original site and will be moved into the library while the stone frieze will be re-instated in the art exhibition space.

“We will be working through the autumn on the pre-construction phases to prepare tender documentation and complete the detailed designs in readiness to go to the market to appoint a contractor towards the end of February or early March next year.”

Mr Fern is pleased to see pre-construction work commence on the project.  He said:

“RGS has a proud tradition of providing the very best educational opportunities for our students to foster their love of learning and ambitions. These superb new facilities will continue, and enhance, that. The new building is also an expression of the breadth of education that we wish to provide and the kind of preparation for the future that our students need: thus, it combines library and research resources with art, computing, maths and engineering and design technology facilities. The whole school community will benefit, not least the large sixth form who aspire to some of the most selective universities in the country and world.

“This is my first major construction project at the school and I am delighted to be working with Howarth Litchfield and their experienced team to bring it to life.”