Beard starts work on £10 million St John’s College Oxford historic library refurbishment

St johns College Oxford Library

Oxford-based construction firm Beard is set to start work on the third and final phase of a major refurbishment of an historic library, within the grounds of one of the UK’s most important architectural sites.

The family-run firm, which specialises in the education sector, will be onsite from this month at St John’s College, Oxford, to start work on the £10 million project to refurbish the Old Library and Laudian Library located in the Canterbury Quadrangle.

The site is not only world famous as a seat of learning but also Grade 1 listed as it is one of the few remaining examples in the UK of the high baroque architectural style, dating back to the early 17th century.

Beard, which has won a number of contracts from the University of Oxford in recent years, was appointed due to the quality of work and delivery for phase one of the project, and its track record in the wider education sector.

The final phase of work is expected to be finished by early 2023 and consists of refurbishment of the College’s existing Laudian Library and Old Library, with remodelling of an area known as the Paddy Room under the Old Library.

The Paddy Room area underwent a refurbishment in the 1970s which will be removed as part of the new work, to reinstate the rooms that existed previously.

Dean Averies, Oxford Director for Beard, said the project would require a high degree of expertise and knowledge of working within unique buildings, which the firm is well-known for.

He added: “This is an incredibly prestigious building to be working on and our previous experience of working on phase one of the refurbishment means we are well placed to complete the piece.

“As a construction firm we have always been very aware that a building is much more than just a building, they are spaces for learning, working and living. Generations of students and academics have formed an emotional attachment with this very important space, and it’s our job to ensure future generations do the same.

“Working on a Grade 1 listed site has its own challenges, and of course there are the ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus. But we have a lot of experience of working on this kind of site in Oxford, and elsewhere. We have also established best practice to ensure all our sites are Covid-secure as wherever we work, we always want our people to get home safely.”

Zoe Hancock, Principal Bursar of St John’s College, said: “This is a very important project for St John’s College and a site which sits at the heart of the College. We’re pleased to see Beard back on site for this final stage of the Library project, following their successful work at a previous phase.

“A site of such national importance requires sensitive handling and a high calibre of expertise and quality of work which we are confident Beard will be able to deliver.”