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Asbestos removal starts at former Pencil Factory site

7 September 2018

Zeras Industries team at the former Pencil Factory site

The first steps have begun on the renovation of the former Pencil Factory in Keswick with the start of an eight-week programme to remove asbestos from the buildings.

This work is being carried out in preparation for a major revamp that will see the historic factory building transformed into a conference centre and the existing former factory warehouse and admin building demolished to create space for the main tent during the Keswick Convention.

Contractor Zeras Industries of Carlisle was awarded the £50,000 contract this Spring and will now start working on behalf of Keswick Ministries to remove asbestos from all of the buildings. Areas with asbestos include the roof spaces of the factory, gaskets in various rooms and flash pads from numerous electrical boxes.

Lee Scott, operations manager from Zeras Industries, said: “We are pleased to be awarded the contract for this important part of the refurbishment of this building. The pencil factory is a local treasure and we are delighted to be part of the renovation project.”

A team of five men is carrying out the asbestos removal in “fully controlled conditions” which includes two decontamination units. Their work will cover the main pencil factory, the old admin building, a large former packing hall and other ancillary buildings.

Stephen Jackson, of Baker Mallett Quantity Surveyors, said: “It is vital for the asbestos works to be carried out, so that demolition of the admin building, packing hall, and buildings to the north of the pencil factory, as well as the refurbishment of the pencil factory, can proceed in a safe manner and avoid any remaining asbestos fibres being released.”

Asbestos was widely used in the 1900's as an insulating material in buildings. However, it is now known to cause diseases, like lung cancer and asbestosis.
The asbestos would have posed little risk to those in the building but is required by law to be removed in a controlled manner before any further works or demolition takes place. The specialist team will ensure than none of the material escapes into surrounding environment during the removal process.

David Sawday, Chief Operating Officer for Keswick Ministries said: “This is a major milestone in the renovation of this iconic building. Our £10million investment in this project will ensure that the unique qualities of the Pencil Factory are retained, as we create a major new facility that will be a source of great pride and benefit to the town.”

It is expected that Keswick Ministries' plans will go before the Lake District National Park next month. The plans also include moving the main Convention Marquee from its current location in Skiddaw Street to the Pencil Factory site for the 2020 Keswick Convention.