Piper Marks Milestone Topping Out Ceremony

THE LATEST EXAMPLE of a rooftop topping out ceremony was celebrated in style this week, with Sir Robert McAlpine himself in attendance.

The completion of construction of the first NHS National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) was celebrated at the topping out ceremony on 14 April 2024.

The formal topping out event at the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate near Loughborough was hosted by IHP, a joint venture between VINCI Building and Sir Robert McAlpine. It follows an eight-years-long project programme, so far.

Topping out is an increasingly popular tradition within roofing and the wider construction sector. The ceremony marks a building reaching its highest level, usually with the completion of the roof.

Topping Out Ceremonies

As their popularity increases, topping out ceremonies are also becoming more lavish and sophisticated.

At this event, the start was signalled by a piper leading guests onto the three-storey high roof of the NRC. Key individuals were then invited to literally cement their involvement in the programme by signing their names in concrete.

The celebration was attended by key stakeholders including Sir Andrew McAlpine – partner at Sir Robert McAlpine on behalf of IHP. Other guests attending were the Black Stork Charity, University of Nottingham, Loughborough University, and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, located on the same estate.

Mark Bessey, IHP Sector Director, said: “This topping out ceremony provides an opportunity to celebrate the exemplary collaboration and the technical excellence of the project team.”

Mark completed the topping out ceremony by fixing a sprig of evergreen pine to the topmost point of the building.

This practice is thought to arise from its function of symbolizing to the project workers that their employment is ending. It prompts them to get their wages and sometimes a pint of ale from the construction boss. This last privilege was sometimes included in historical construction clauses. It is unclear whether this clause is enforceable by the Technology and Construction Court in present times!

The £105 million NRC is a 70-bed, energy efficient facility, due to open in 2025.

Recently, a timelapse of the first six months of the build and drone footage were released to give an insight into the ongoing development of the project.

>> Read about more IHP topping out ceremonies in the news

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