Site start for £3.6m Cumbria advanced manufacturing technology centre

Contractors have started work on a new multi-million-pound Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre based at Furness College in Barrow.

The project, overseen by Harrison Pitt Architects, will boost engineering and advanced manufacturing expertise throughout the county by enabling the college to train up to 1,150 apprentices at any one time.

The 14,000 sq ft centre will host engineering and advanced manufacturing research, rapid prototyping and high voltage test laboratories.

It will provide a realistic scenario-based learning environment for those completing science, technology and engineering-related apprenticeships at some of the area’s biggest employers, including BAE Systems, Siemens, GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly Clark and Centrica.

Zoe Hooton, an architect at Harrison Pitt Architects, said: “The design of the centre mimics the facilities used by leading international manufacturers with sites in Cumbria, so it will provide students with the specialist transferable skillset needed to succeed in the sector.

“The new facility will put Furness College at the forefront of innovative manufacturing education and training, so it will really help plug the need for technically trained staff within the county. It’s exciting to see the plans starting to take shape.”

To help deliver the project, Furness College has received a £1.2m Local Growth Fund grant through the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

John Smith, Deputy Principal and Finance Director at Furness College, added: “We are delighted the project is now underway and progressing as planned. The building will start to become a reality towards the end of October with the completion of the steel framework.

“Looking forward to next year, the completed facility will add to the existing great facilities that Furness College has to offer its students, staff, employers and the community.”

Maryport-based Thomas Armstrong Construction Ltd, which specialises in the construction of building and civil engineering projects, is building the scheme on behalf of Harrison Pitt Architects.

George Smith, contracts manager at Thomas Armstrong, said: “The expansion plans of some of the area’s top manufacturers, including Siemens in Ulverston and the new biopharma plant at GlaxoSmithKline, means that demand for skilled workers is going to surge even more.

“Work on site is progressing really well so far, with the foundations for the steel frame almost complete. It will provide a real boost for the local area once built.”

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow in Furness, added: “Furness is standing at the threshold of enormously exciting times and the industrial expansion is going to require our young people to be equipped with the very best engineering and technological training.

“Once completed the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre at Furness College will be able to deliver those cutting-edge disciplines and I am hugely impressed by the work that has begun on this project.

“The centre will be yet another string to the college’s bow and I feel certain that local employers will be satisfied that students who have been taught here will have the skills to deliver for Furness over many years to come.”

The project is due to be completed in May 2016 for the new college term in September.

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