Duke of York helicopters in to check on progress at west Norfolk construction site

The Duke of York on a tour of CITB at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt

The Duke of York on a tour of CITB at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The sun was just going down as Prince Andrew was given a tour of this season's completed projects at the Constructionarium site in Bircham Newton yesterday.

The Duke of York on a tour of CITB at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt

The Duke of York on a tour of CITB at Bircham Newton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The Duke of York flew in by helicopter from Buckingham Palace and donned wellington boots and a hi-visibilty jacket to tour the site.

He visited the viewing platform for an overview of the new site developments and sat in on a brief roundtable discussion in the meeting room. Altogether, the good-humoured visitor spent about 90 minutes at the muddy and bleak location.

The Constructionarium is a training centre for construction graduates. It's hosted by the National Construction College (NCC) and has its own dedicated training area on an established 14-acre site. Ground features and conditions have been created to provide challenging environments requiring technical and practical solutions.

Students are given just six days to complete a project from design to construction, and many are modelled on existing buildings - so they have a 40-foot replica of the Gherkin, and a mini Canary Wharf, among others.


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Students have already finished for Christmas, but the duke was given a tour of the site by scheme director Robin Holdsworth.

Mr Holdsworth said: 'He was clearly interested in the expansion of the facilities we have, and wondered if more could be done to encourage young people to go into civil engineering.

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'He wanted to know how the site could be utilised to bring youngsters in, not necessarily to be involved in construction, but general engineering – naval and marine engineering.

'I think he will be back again, He said he would be in touch with industry figures to push what we're doing.

'He wants more students to come here from university technical colleges, and he wants young people, aged 14 to 17, to do vocational training as well as academic training,

'He was amazed that all the structures here are built within just one week, considering their complexity.'

Constructionarium is a not for profit organisation which provides a learning experience for students who are following a civil, construction or built environment academic course and for professionals who are starting out on their career in the construction industry.

The practical work introduces safety, logistics and cost control as well as the reality of site operations.

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