In 2018 Gairloch and District Heritage Company gave the green light to repurpose one of the most interesting and technically challenging buildings that we at GT Diamond Drilling have ever worked on.
This building’s history on its own is quite unique, having been built at the height of the cold war it was one of the United Kingdom’s A.A.O.R’s (Anti- Aircraft Operations Rooms), whilst additionally being one of only two ever to be built above ground. Its purpose was to act along with other A.A.O.R stations to give our royal air force early detection of any potential attacks from Russia, but as the cold war thawed these stations became increasingly abandoned across the UK, due to most of them being subterranean and with no obvious commercial use. This station however found a new purpose, and became a Roads department building, being used up until as late as 2012.
In November 2012 Gairloch and District Heritage Company purchased the building from Highland Council for £1.00, and the dream of converting this historic building in to a Heritage Museum finally became a reality.
G T Diamond Drilling was contacted to offer solutions to what would prove to be a very demanding deconstruction project, calling for innovative and creative ways to change the face and internal structure of this historic building.
The building’s external walls and roof were 600mm thick, heavily reinforced blast proof concrete, and all door and window openings had to be cut into 1 Ton section’s without overcut. The internal walls were 300mm thick reinforced blast proof concrete and had to be removed in 500Kg sections, to allow them to be removed through existing doorways within the building. All walls had to be flush cut to the existing concrete ceiling and roof, as no down stand could be accommodated due to the existing floor to ceiling height being barley compliant, as with the external walls over cut was not acceptable.
These restrictions meant that a very large quantity of specialist machinery would have to be deployed to carry out this somewhat original work, especially considering the aim of completion within a tight timescale proposed by the contractor.
1,900 152mm holes were drilled through the structure with standard and Autofeed drilling equipment, allowing one operator to use two drills at the same time and reducing HAVS exposure by 50%, the holes were drilled to prevent overcut and provide lifting points for the concrete blocks.
All the internal 500Kg concrete blocks were removed by G T Diamond Drilling using our Gas driven Avant 525 articulated compact loader, 2 No Hilti TS20 Track saw’s and 1 No Hilti TS10 Track Saw cut over 1,000 Mt of concrete, 14No 500mm Holes were drilled through the 600mm thick concrete roof to provide borrowed light.
This contract took around three months to complete in its entirety, with between three and five operatives working on the project at any one time. We are proud of the unique work we have undertaken here, and very much look forward to seeing the finished article soon.