Beams reunite two communities in Somers Town

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HUGE concrete beams have forged a bridge between two long-parted communities.

The 18 beams were lifted into place across the width of Winston Churchill Avenue forming an integral part of the £11m community hub in Somers Town at the weekend.

JOINED The construction of the Somers Town Hub now spans Winston Churchill Avenue in Portsmouth. Picture: Paul Jacobs (13690-1)

JOINED The construction of the Somers Town Hub now spans Winston Churchill Avenue in Portsmouth. Picture: Paul Jacobs (13690-1)

Bosses at BAM Construction have been planning the installation of the beams for three months.

Each beam is 75ft long, weighs 38 tonnes and is 4ft wide.

They shipped from Ireland, with the first six lorries carrying 12 of the huge connectors arriving in Winston Churchill Avenue at 4am on Saturday.

The road was closed from 1am Saturday morning to 6am this morning.

Nick Butler is BAM’s project manager for the hub.

He said it was a landmark occasion that brought the communities either side of the road back together.

He said: ‘It’s not often you put do this across a dual carriageway. This is an iconic building. We’ve been planning this lift for three months.

‘It’s going well – all the walls are in the right place and are the right height.’

BAM Construction’s 15 builders worked to install the beams, with a powerful crane lifting each one individually into position on the hub.

Workers on the ground carefully ensured each one lined up before the crane lowered then the final few inches.

Now with all 18 in place, the work is far from over.

As previously reported in The News, the community hub will have a youth club, doctor’s surgery, dental surgery and be home to part of the council’s housing office. It will also feature a cafeteria, with views across the road, and an indoor sports hall.

Mr Butler said the work is due to be completed by summer 2014. Further work will be done in the next five weekends, except Easter, to install scaffolding at either end of the hub and to concrete the first floor.

The hub is funded by Portsmouth City Council.

Mr Butler added: ‘There was a bridge across here at one stage but it got knocked down. They want to join the two communities together.

‘It’s a milestone within the project.’

Apart from the facilities inside the hub, it will serve the basic function of allowing residents to cross the road.