July 16th, 2012
While the nation has been gripped by the tennis on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, a team of Black Country engineers have had their eyes a little higher – they have been watching the performance of the court’s new sliding roof.
Workers at Barnshaw Section Benders in Coseley shaped the beams that give the roof its dramatic shape. Barnshaw commercial director Greg North said: “We curved 66 49ft box sections for the roof structure, so obviously accuracy was very important.”
“Everyone at the factory has been keeping an eye on how the roof performs – there’s a lot of pride in being involved in such a high-profile project. It is being seen by millions of people on TV around the world.”
The roof is made of 10 moving trusses, each spanning 246ft and weighing 70 tons. The five trusses at each end open and close the roof in a concertina style taking about 10 minutes. It then takes another 20 minutes for the air conditioning to control the humidity.
Mr. North said: “We carried out the bending for the project in April 2007 so there has been a lot of complex engineering since then to get the roof into operation for this championship.”
The beams were bent for Bolton-based construction steel company Watson and the main contractor for the £50 million project was Galliford Try. The roof was installed earlier this year in preparation for this summer’s Wimbledon.
Barnshaws employs 50 of its 170 workers at the factory in Coseley, which was equipped earlier this year with what is thought to be the biggest cold bending three-section roller bender ever made.
Installing the £1 million machine – aided by a £230,000 business investment grant from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands – enabled Barnshaws to take on another 11 people.
The company has also curved structural steel for Terminal 5 at Heathrow and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Production manager, Gary Noons, aged 41, who has worked at the firm for 15 years, said none of the workers had been able to go to Wimbledon but had admired their handiwork on television.