Cause of Epsom Downs Racecourse roof damage remains a mystery

The roof of the Duchess's stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse has been seriously damaged twice in two years in high winds

The roof of the Duchess's stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse has been seriously damaged twice in two years in high winds

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Epsom Downs Racecourse has still not discovered why the multi-million pound roof of one of its stands was damaged in high winds in December - just one month before its racing season kicks off.

On Christmas Eve a section of the 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.  

It later said the roof, which is covered with a skin of metal no thicker than a credit card, was designed to withstand gusts of 70mph.

In January, the company, which built the roof, promised to use its "best people" to ensure it does not happen a third time. 

But last week it emerged Willmott Dixon will not be involved in the repair process at all.

Spokesman Andrew Geldard said: "Epsom Downs Racecourse are putting all the repairs through their insurance company.  Willmott Dixon will not be involved in the process."

The racecourse’s Spring Meeting is due to be held on April 23, with the world-famous Epsom Derby also not too far in the distance on June 7.

Simon Durrant, general manager of the racecourse, said: "After the Christmas storms caused roof damage to our Duchess’s Stand we worked with our contractors to introduce a number of control measures to ensure there can be no repeat of the problem.

"Subsequently Epsom Downs Racecourse has continued to operate as a busy events venue and we look forward to welcoming thousands of racegoers for the first race meeting of the year on 23 April.

"A team of experts is undertaking an investigation into the matter. This is ongoing and, based on its findings, we will take any steps necessary to resolve the matter for the long-term."

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

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