October 2017: Construction days until Advent

Construction days until Advent

At a time when retailers are starting to count shopping days until Christmas, the Pilgrim Team is wrestling with “construction days until Advent”.

Those familiar with the Christian calendar will know that the build up to Christmas (Advent) is just as busy as Christmas itself.  It doesn’t run to quite the same timeframe as a chocolate filled Advent calendar (this year it starts on 3 December) but it certainly stands as a non-negotiable deadline for completion of all construction works at Gloucester.

That’s not always been the case: when we started planning for Pilgrim, we thought the landscape scheme would take longer – with some of the planting running into next year.  However our main contractors have developed a shorter programme and having lived through one Advent and Christmas disrupted by construction, we are very keen to avoid another. 

Of course, last Advent we “only” had one contract (Cathedral Green) to worry about.  This year, we’ve added the main Internal Works contract – and most recently a separate roofing project to a building immediately adjacent to the main cathedral.   Last year, we “only” had a few weeks’ experience of living with a large capital project and while it was a change from the norm, disruption was mainly about routes through the Close and emergency exits from the Cathedral.

Having lived through a year of noise, dust, ever changing routes into and around the building and some interesting backdrops for worshippers and tourists alike, every single member of the Cathedral and construction teams is hyper-conscious of the need to have things back to normal by the first Sunday in Advent.  Because as we’ve already established, Advent is our busiest time of year. Unfortunately for us, one of our largest annual events takes place even earlier than that... on Sunday 19 November, Gloucester switches on its Christmas lights with a wonderful lantern parade making its way to the cathedral for a carol service.  The whole evening is “magical” – full of excitement, anticipation and goodwill to all.  And it’s incredibly well attended. 

So the Cathedral and its grounds are currently awash with people working at full capacity to ensure that things are finished in time.  Given the importance of quality for work such as this, it’s not a time for short-cuts nor is it a time when we want to be dealing with the kinds of errors which can happen when you’re under-pressure.  Which means that as well as working at full capacity (Saturday-morning working for the outside scheme), there are a number of regular conversations to check that Is have been dotted and Ts crossed – and particularly to check when that’s happening and who is responsible.  As with all things cathedral building related, it would be much more comfortable if this was happening behind closed doors ….

Yet that’s not the nature of Pilgrim and one of the great comforts through this process is that everyone wants the final “product” to be right.  Everyone is proud of their achievements and thrilled to be part of the Cathedral’s future.  I'm delighted that along the way we have managed to achieve our ambition of our contractors becoming part of the cathedral family.

This month we will put those relationships to the test because the challenge for Pilgrim is making sure that our new family pulls together to ensure that work is co-ordinated and finished in good time to welcome the rest of our guests for this year’s Christmas celebrations.  Why don’t you come along on Sunday 19 November to find out?


Pilgrim's Progress
Webpage icon April 2017: Spring Forward...
Webpage icon April 2018: The Wait is Over
Webpage icon August 2017: Project Pilgrim vs Time Team
Webpage icon Building On Our Foundations
Webpage icon December 2017: All I want for Christmas...
Webpage icon February 2017: The year of living dangerously
Webpage icon February 2018: The Scale of our Ambitions
Webpage icon January 2018: Worth the Wait ….
Webpage icon July 2017: Open for business
Webpage icon June 2017: The Art of the Possible
Webpage icon June has been a fantastic month for Pilgrim
Webpage icon March 2017: Welcome to Gloucester Cathedral
Webpage icon March 2018: Change or Transformation?
Webpage icon May 2017 - 'Doing our bit'
Webpage icon May 2018: "All Visitors Are Welcome As Christ"
Webpage icon November 2017: The Shape of Things to Come …
Webpage icon November 2018: Regeneration
Webpage icon September 2018: Lessons Learned
Webpage icon September2017: A Very 21st Century Cathedral