PHS Compliance began working with Westminster Abbey in 2015, delivering electrical fixed wire, portable appliance and emergency lighting inspection and testing services across Westminster Abbey’s estate, which includes Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church, and Deans Yard’s choir school, ecclesiastical residences, Chapter offices and hospitality. England’s coronation church since 1066, Westminster Abbey’s building architecture was completed between the 13th and 16th centuries and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2014 alone, the site hosted over 1.2 million paying visitors and 70,000 worshippers attending special services.
Inspection and testing in a heavily visited, highly operational Grade 1 listed historic building environment is one of the biggest challenges faced by our engineers, as well as by the site estates team. The requirement to isolate circuits for testing purposes in this multiple-use and unique environment is significant, requiring in-depth forward planning with and cooperation from the site estates team. Working at height is also a major issue, with the Abbey’s West Towers reaching 69 metres.
Testing these areas in accordance with BS7671 requires the full cooperation of site managers, Abbey employees and the visiting public. The solution was a comprehensive forward planning programme coupled with a flexible approach. This included “fall back” areas that could be tested at any time to reduce engineer downtime should any of the pre-planned areas not be available at short notice; a regular occurrence in such an iconic estate. PHS Compliance’s flexible approach also included early starts, late and weekend working to accommodate the needs of the client.
The safety and preservation of our historic building structures and fabric are crucial to our ecclesiastical and national mission. Westminster Abbey has been England’s coronation church since 1066 and is a major destination for visitors from around the world. PHS Compliance helps us to manage and preserve this iconic estate for future generations of worshippers and visitors.