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Aysgarth School

Sports facility supplier Collinson plc was thrilled when Aysgarth School, an esteemed independent prep school chose an Evolution Sports facility for their site in North Yorkshire.

Thrilled with the end result, which will be known as the Clement Hales Sports Hall after the school’s founder, it was he who set the bar as it was his vision and high standards that set the bar high back in 1877,  and the School is proud that they still maintain these values in all aspects of Schooling, with the new sports facility certainly being no exception.

Funds to make it all happen were jointly raised by the School and the Aysgarth School Foundation which was formed back in 2008 to raise funds for school building projects and the provision of bursaries.  

The School’s existing multi purpose facility is 25 years old.  A steady increase in sporting activities at the School, combined with the unreliable British weather, meant there was often competition for space; the School managed this with many additional activities being undertaken off site.  The decision was made to bring all the sports together on site and address other issues such as changing facilities for both the pupils and visiting teams.

The task fell to the School’s Estates and Finance Manager, Andrew Francis who started researching the way forward, looking at the options available in terms of the sports facility, and the all-important issue of funding and budgets.

Initially two options were considered: a traditional style new build, and the alternative of a compromise solution based on refurbishment and upgrading of the existing multi use facility. With budgets coming in at opposite ends of the scale- the traditional build being more than they had considered and the alternative solution not achieving  each department’s goals  for the sum of money involved, it was time to go back to the drawing board.

Following some research, Andrew came across and contacted Collinson who offer a design and build service for their range of sports facilities. Further to a site meeting and preliminary discussions, a draft layout and budget price was submitted for an Evolution Sports Hall. With the prospect that this could be achieved within budget, it was clear to Andrew that this was the best case scenario and gave him the confidence to take it forward.

Evolution is an insulated steel framed superstructure which is covered externally in a range of materials to create the desired appearance to suit the client’s budget and aesthetic aspirations. These bespoke facilities can be fitted out internally to suit the client’s requirements for PE and sporting activities, together with ancillary areas for changing, offices, classrooms . . . the options are endless.

The structure and flexibility of design gave Aysgarth the versatility they required and discussions soon started in earnest.  The site was selected, being in close proximity to the sport grounds, the Prep School and Pre Prep School but a respectful distance from the School Chapel which is a listed building.  The School were keen to minimise the visual impact of the development and therefore, although it added to the overall project cost, chose to reduce existing ground levels by about 2.5 metres so the new roofline would sit level with neighbouring buildings.

Naturally the School were anxious to know that the project would be delivered within budget, and as such it was vitally important for Andrew that he had a fixed price contract, but also that Collinson were able to incorporate additional features as the project developed, providing that the cost justified the benefit.

Before a final specification was drawn up, a team from the School visited several projects completed by Collinson; they were impressed by what they saw and the visits also helped the School formulate a list of their exact requirements.    

Andrew and a School governor fulfilled their responsibility with a ‘due diligence’ check on Collinson, visiting their premises in Lancashire. Commenting on the site and manufacturing facility Andrew said ‘It was neat, clean, efficient and well organised’ impressed with what they saw Andrew continued ‘This was a reflection of the high standards we had seen during our dealings with Collinson and as a client looking to spend it had to be with someone we had total confidence in’ 

Collinson undertook the design and build of the whole project, which commenced in July 2012.  The wet summer followed by a very cold winter made challenging working conditions but the team drove forward maintaining the schedule.  Excavated earth was utilised to create an additional pitch eliminating the need for costly off site removal; every aspect had been thought through.

Eleven months later the facility was complete, designed with a brick and cedar facade, which nicely integrates the structure into the School architecture.  Inside, the multi use surface is marked with courts for indoor tennis, 5-a-side football, volley ball, badminton and indoor cricket.  There are 4 cricket nets which with foresight and good planning have been installed in a single net and 3 net configuration to allow one to one cricket training  whilst other activities are taking place.  There is also a climbing wall with six routes and a belay ledge which will provide fun and challenges for all. 

Ancillary rooms include; two team changing facilities with hot showers, referee changing, rehab room, staff gym and office area. The facility will also be utilised by visiting teams and is compliant with DDA regulations.  There is lots of storage space and a viewing gallery to watch over the sports and an area for the display of trophies is now being created.  

Aysgarth School is justifiably proud of its sporting achievements and the facility will be of huge benefit to the School in delivering its sporting curriculum. Now the facility is up and running, work can commence in converting the old multi purpose hall to a performing arts and music facility adding tiered seats and improved acoustics, to complete the bigger project.

The investment was less than the cost of a traditional build, the Evolution Sports Facility made this possible for us; Andrew Francis the Estates and Finance Manager said ‘I am very proud of what we have here and I know Collinson are too.  People ask would I use Collinson again, Definitely, I would also highly recommend them.  We had an honest relationship and the result is an outstanding facility which offers the pupils a wealth of opportunities’

The Clement Hales Sports Hall will be officially opened in October by Sir Matthew Pinsent, an old boy of the School.





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