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Construction underway at Lizard lifeboat station

Construction of a state-of-the-art Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station has begun at The Lizard in Cornwall.

Designed by consultant Royal Haskoning with local architect Poynton Bradbury Wynter Cole, the new building is over the footprint of the former lifeboat house that was constructed in the 1960s.

The station will be constructed using a glued laminated timber frame, with proprietary cladding and copper roofing system, supported by a reinforced concrete main slab founded on the existing station buttress.

This removes the need for piles and therefore the need to operate large plant in cramped circumstances. 

The most innovative aspect of the construction is the reuse of the substructure, put in place for the previous facility. This has minimised impact on the cliffs and foreshore, which carry sensitive international environmental status.

“Based on the successful modular system we used during construction of the Padstow lifeboat station during 2006, the new slipway will extend 70m, and is constructed from a steel framed deck supported by reinforced concrete transoms,” said Royal Haskoning project manager Jonathan Kirkland.

The firm has also designed a replacement cliff railway winch house to improve access to the lifeboat station from the cliff top.

“This is an extremely challenging project,” added Kirkland. “Due to its restrictive location, a significant amount of pre-project planning and review has been carried out with RNLI framework contractor Nuttall John Martin.”

Much of the construction work is taking place from the seaward side, using a large jack-up barge, and a tower crane has been erected at the top of the cliffs. 

“This build has been a long time in the planning and it is fair to say this will be a demanding site to work on,” said RNLI head of estates management Howard Richings. “Any building with its feet in the sea and the rest exposed to the forces of wind and wave is going to be a challenge to construct but it will be a vital investment for the future of the RNLI on The Lizard.

“In engineering terms this will be a fascinating project and we will be including within this build some exciting alternative energy generation systems.”

The RNLI’s lifeboat stations are designed to enable its crew to operate self sufficiently, providing a maintenance workshop, training room, changing facilities, toilets and showers, a galley and office space and fuel and flare storage. It represents a £7.5M investment funded by public and legacy donations.

When work completes in autumn 2011, The Lizard’s new lifeboat station will house the charity’s latest Tamar Class high speed all-weather lifeboat, and provide vital sea rescue services off the Cornish coast.

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