Epsom Downs Racecourse roof will not be damaged a third time, say builders

Work has begun to repair the damaged roof at Epsom Downs Racecourse

Work has begun to repair the damaged roof at Epsom Downs Racecourse

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The company which built the wind-damaged roof at Epsom Downs Racecourse has promised to use its “best people” to ensure it does not happen a third time.

On Christmas Eve, a section of the multi-million pound Duchess’s stand’s roof, believed to be the size of a tennis court, was ripped off in the bad weather - almost exactly two years after "freak winds" tore off part of the same roof.

After the first incident, the managing director of the racecourse, Rupert Trevelyan, said he had demanded a ‘guarantee’ from contractors it would never happen again.

At the time, Willmott Dixon, the construction firm responsible for the roof, told the Epsom Guardian it was designed to withstand winds of 47mph and complied with regulations taking into consideration location, exposure, height of the building, shape and size.

But today, Andrew Geldard, a spokesman for Willmott Dixon, which built the roof, claimed it was designed to withstand gusts of 70mph.

That is 22mph more than the highest gust recorded at a weather station in Ewell on Christmas Eve.

The spokesman said the company is working with the roof’s architects to find a solution which will ensure the incident does not happen a third time.

He said: "There has been a little bit damage to the roof.  It’s not a significant amount.

"The sheer force and intensity of the wind has caused a section of it to become unstuck.

"We are concerned on the basis that we need to address this so it doesn’t happen again.  

"We are speaking to the architects and will come up with a solution. 

"It has been built to all the specification standards but for some reason again it has come away."

He said the company are not considering altering the design of the roof or installing a new one and that any repair work, which has begun, will involve "strengthening and reinforcing" the existing roof.

Mr Geldard added: "We are putting out best people on this to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  We won’t leave it until we are satisfied it will not happen again." 

The Duchess’s stand, which was opened in April 2009, was built as part of a £38m development at the racecourse.

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