PRE-CONSTRUCT ARCHAEOLOGY
Roman Intaglio depicting a lion attacking an antelope, from Lant Street
 

Regeneration Projects

King's Cross Central, London Borough of Camden

A programme of below ground archaeological works is being carried out by PCA. The excavations have found remains of the railway including turntables, crane bases, canals and hydraulic power systems. Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd is also carrying out a programme of historic building recording at this site. The buildings are of 19th century date and comprise industrial buildings relating to the use of the Western and Eastern Goods Yard and Great Northern Railway during the 19th and 20th centuries. The site comprises the best preserved 19th century railway landscape in Europe. Specific buildings recorded include gasholder guide frames, the Granary building, goods sheds, canal walls, stables and coal drops. Some of the buildings will be retained and refurbished for new uses, whilst some buildings will be demolished. The site has Conservation Area status and many of the buildings are listed (Grade II). All buildings have been recorded to English Heritage Level 4, and a written and drawn record is being produced.

The Culross Buildings, completed 1891 The East Handyside Canopy, built by Andrew Handyside & Co. 1888 The roof of the underground stables at Eastern Goods Yard, note the  slots across the floor were to light the stables below Foundation of a wagon turntable, Train Assembly Shed Turntable A after excavation

Bermondsey Square, Southwark

Bermondsey Square represents the historic core of the Medieval Bermondsey Abbey, perhaps the biggest abbey in Britain. It is a Scheduled Monument (SM) protected by law and monitored by English Heritage and it also lies in a Conservation Area as defined by the London Borough of Southwark. However Southwark Council were keen to regenerate the area through the development of the site for mixed use, while maintaining the antiques market and relationships with local people, and making the most of the archaeological potential.

Having brought English Heritage on board for the concept of the redevelopment of the site, Southwark Council undertook an architectural competition in 1998 to design a suitable scheme. The competition was supported by the results of an archaeological evaluation by PCA which was designed to aid the foundation design. From the outset a flexible engineering design was required which would maximise the in situ preservation of archaeological remains, minimise the disturbance of archaeological remains, and which could respond to the unexpected discoveries working on such a site would entail.

The basic methodology applied to the site consisted of:

  1. Foundation designs, resulting from the best current understanding of the location of the archaeology, together with an archaeological trench design and method statement to excavate the pile locations, were submitted to English Heritage and the Home Office for approval. The archaeological trench design and method statement were negotiated in advance with English Heritage and Southwark Council to ensure a positive decision and facilitate a quick return.
  2. The trenches as targeted were fully excavated, removing all the archaeology thereby clearing the location for piling. Where archaeology was found which the inspectors wished to be preserved, usually walls, the pile position was moved or adjusted.
  3. Occasionally there were areas with so much archaeology, especially in the northeast of the site where large church remains survived, that the inspectors agreed to expand on the Scheduled Ancient Monument approval and allow wider areas to be opened up and investigated so that realistic pile locations could be identified.
  4. Service installation and landscaping works were monitored, mostly by watching briefs, which acted as insurance for all parties that no unlicensed works could damage the archaeology, and thereby cause considerable problems.

Archaeological remains ranged from the pre-historic period, Roman, Saxon, Medieval to late Post Medieval in date.

The key elements of the success of the project were:

  • Continuity of PCA as the archaeological contractor.
  • Maintenance of a good working relationship with the archaeological inspectors in English Heritage and Southwark Council.
  • The good understanding of the project design and construction teams of the constraints of working on such a site.
  • Flexibility by all parties
Substantial medieval remains were uncovered in the north-east part of the Square. These included part of the south tower, the main south wall of the church and cellars that were part of the 16th century 'mansion'. One of the many pile locations excavated by to a depth of c. 3.50m below modern ground level. Note the post-medieval chalk lined well and the modern sewer pipe in the foreground. This carved stone head is of a female face carried alongside a section of squared moulding. It was probably part of an internal feature. Pile locations around the Medieval Abbey (Green shaded areas) The finished development includes an area set aside for the famous antiques market and a resturant whereby the medieval abbey remains can be seen under a glass floor

Radial 64, Wear Industrial Estate in Washington, Tyne and Wear

Radial 64 is an important regeneration scheme of the 18 hectares site of the former factory of Goodyear Dunlop Tyres UK Limited close to the A1M (Junction 64) in Washington. To date (2011), a BAE Systems facility is in place on the site and Rolls Royce has acquired the remaining land to re-locate their Sunderland plant.

Despite development in the 1960s as part of the Wear Industrial Estate, which lies in the south-western part of the ‘new town’ of Washington, the site retained an important archaeological resource. It lies to the north of the site of Harraton Colliery, which was potentially in operation as early as c. 1590, while the site itself lay within an area – generally known from the post-medieval period as 'Harraton Outside' - that was dotted with outlying coal workings and criss-crossed by numerous waggonways transporting coal to staithes at Fatfield on the River Wear.

In advance of the regeneration scheme PCA conducted investigations at the site in 2008-2009, after assessing the potential of the site by desk-based research. Following an evaluation in December 2008, the main element of the fieldwork, a large open area excavation in Spring 2009, aimed to record an important complex sequence of late post-medieval/industrial era colliery waggonways; this work was required as planning condition.

The earliest such remains to be recorded represented two timber-tracked waggonways which served Hall Pit of Harraton Outside and these probably date to the mid to late 18th century, possibly earlier. A huge clay embankment had been constructed to carry these routes, which likely conveyed fully laden coal wagons from the pithead to the riverside staithes. Later waggonways served Anna Bella Pit, Noel Pit and Judith Pit. Survival of the timber elements of some of these tracks was remarkable. There also was some evidence for another, later, waggonway which likely saw the introduction of iron rails, probably in the first half of the 19th century.

The Goodyear Dunlop tyre factory - operational from 1970 as a tyre factory for Dunlop – was once a landmark building which had seen times move on The tyre factory site shown in red outline on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map from the mid 19th century with the colliery waggonway clearly evident. Reproduced from 1856 Ordnance Survey® map PCA staff recording an evaluation trench in December 2008 The main excavation in spring 2009; the complex stratigraphy of the multi-phase waggonway routes required careful examination Preservation of some of the timbers forming the waggonway rails and sleepers was remarkable