Enabling works have begun at pace at York Minster following the arrival of two Portakabin® buildings to the Minster precinct this morning (Monday 23rd January).

The temporary buildings will facilitate the decant of the existing Stoneyard dating from 1914 to allow the creation of the Technology & Works Hub, one of the two new facilities of the Centre of Excellence, a world-class campus providing research, education and training in the heritage craft skills which are vital for the ongoing repair and conservation of the Minster.

York Minster and Shepherd Group, owners of the Portakabin brand, have a long history of working together. York-based Shepherd Construction supported on the restoration of the Minster Tower from 1967 to 1972, when six and a half miles of high tensile stainless-steel rods were inserted into foundations of the central and western towers, forming the reinforced stress frames that stabilised the towers.

The Centre of Excellence is the pioneer project in the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan, an ambitious masterplan ratified by City of York Council in June 2022. Expected to be finished by mid-2024, the arrival of the Portakabin buildings will allow pre-demolition survey work to begin, and will provide essential office and welfare accommodation for the Works department which is currently housed in the Minster Stoneyard.

York Minster has also submitted a planning application to City of York Council to sustainably convert and refurbish 1 Deangate in the Minster Precinct into offices and welfare facilities for its Visitor Experience staff and volunteers. The building is currently being used as temporary facilities for some of the Stoneyard trades, and will continue to be used as such during the redevelopment of its existing facilities.

If approved, the conversion of 1 Deangate will enable the Visitor Experience team to be housed together within an inspiring workspace, in turn allowing York Minster to further enhance the welcome it provides to over 700,000 visitors annually.

With plans for the building to be fully insulated and equipped with roof-mounted solar slates and air-source heat pumps, the proposals support the objectives of the Neighbourhood Plan, which has been developed with sustainability at its heart.

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster, said: “The arrival of the Portakabin buildings today is an exciting milestone in the delivery of the Centre of Excellence and forms part of the enabling works ahead of construction starting in the Spring.  We’re delighted to again be working with Shepherd Group to further enhance and preserve this incredibly significant monument for so many across the world and are very grateful to them for their support with this project through their sponsorship of the temporary facilities.

“It is also good to see the next project of the Neighbourhood Plan start the next stage of development as we submit the planning application for the redevelopment of 1 Deangate.  We are particularly pleased with the net zero retrofit element of this project which, if approved, will delivery onsite energy production through the installation of solar tiles, a fully insulated building and air source heat pumps – allowing us to reach another major milestone in our journey towards net zero”. 

York Minster is in the DNA of our City, and we’re delighted to be working with them once again. The ambitious plans they have match our aspirations to be a driving force behind innovative ways to support the future of construction. Heritage craft skills will play a huge part in honouring the past while preparing York and the Minster for an exciting future.

Dan Ibbetson, CEO, Portakabin