The case of the abandoned school…

Case StudiesNews

This month, our customer focus is on (drumroll please)… Coln House School

abandoned school

Coln House School was a special, state-funded junior and senior school, based in Fairford. In March 2017, the school closed, but the site was left as it was – as if the pupils had just finished for the day, ready to come back the next. Of course, they never did…

So, Gloucestershire County Council needed everything removed from the premises as quickly as possible, and were looking for a waste management company who could methodically work through the abandoned school’s buildings, removing all waste in a period of a couple of weeks.

As a famous meerkat would say, simples! Right? Unfortunately not. The task in hand may have looked simple, if a little spooky, on the surface, but was actually very complex. For starters, there were a huge range of buildings to tackle (some of which were listed), from classrooms, toilets and kitchens, to a gymnasium, paint store and boiler room, as well as just about everything and anything in between. This meant the range of waste to be collected was also hugely varied – we’re talking furniture, white goods, desks, books, art materials, laboratory chemicals, swimming pool equipment, a pool table and who knows what else…And all to be cleared in a couple of weeks? We had our work cut out!

But, as we hope you know by now, we do love a challenge. And there were many of those to overcome along the way. Firstly, as all school personnel had long since vacated the site, we had little idea of exactly what we would encounter when clearing the buildings. It was very much an “unknown quantity” (or, some might say, the start of a horror film…). So, our crew, aka “the ghostbusters”, had to be extremely vigilant as they entered each building. Negotiating their way through overgrown gardens, blocked corridors and up and down narrow, winding staircases, they came across some extremely heavy items, such as commercial-size freezers and a pool table, as well as large volumes of potentially hazardous waste (just think of your chemistry classes at school!). This waste, as well as all confidential records, had to be immediately quarantined and tested.

Luckily, no ghosts were found on our mission, and, with careful planning and a lot of hard work from our team, we managed to overcome the challenges to complete the project on time and to the satisfaction of the council. So, the case of the abandoned school was solved, and we learnt that some horror stories do have a happy ending after all!


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