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Summer Maintenance at Pembroke

After the excitement of May week and graduation there is a brief lull in activity, but for one department it’s the start of the busiest time of year.

Robert Griggs oversees the maintenance and housekeeping teams at Pembroke, and it’s rare to find him standing still – he’s usually moving between jobs all over College. The summer vacation is even busier than usual for the maintenance team, as it’s a crucial time for refurbishing rooms and keeping College facilities up to scratch. This year the summer work began on the 24th June, and will continue well into September.

The amount of work for the maintenance team has been steadily increasing over the last few years. They generally work to a five year plan that allows them to look ahead and set priorities, says Robert. The main priority is of course health and safety, closely followed by student living standards. There’s also, he points out, a responsibility to our historic buildings that adds an extra layer of complexity to the job. And the summer is by no means quiet for the Housekeeping team either; they’ve got rooms to set up for the summer programmes, and floors and soft furnishings to replace.


Work has to be done to maintain historic buildings like the Chapel

Robert gives a quick-fire snapshot of the work taking place this summer. They’re continuing work in New Court, this time refurbishing S staircase. A single staircase may not sound like a lot of work, but it contains 15 student rooms, and gyp rooms and showers that need refurbishing. As part of Pembroke’s efforts to be more sustainable the team are putting in LED lighting as they refurbish rooms, and adding motion sensors to common areas so that no energy is wasted on unnecessary lighting.  They also have to renew flooring, decorate walls and ceilings, check and improve fire safety systems, and update the heating systems. It’s not just in College that this work takes place either; external houses in Barton Road (seven rooms) and Panton Street (twelve rooms) are being refurbished, too, and it all has to be completely finished by the start of the Michaelmas term.

Further demanding the team’s time is external work. This summer the Chapel is getting a face-lift, mainly to replace some rotten wood at the top of Chapel where the bell is housed. It’s all part of keeping Pembroke at its best, and maintaining our historic buildings.

Summer maintenance work is added on top of ongoing work, including a major project to improve fire alarms in external houses, and upgrade the way they communicate with the Porter’s lodge. And the everyday work doesn’t stop over summer. College is still filled with staff, Fellows, graduate students and international summer students who all give the maintenance and housekeeping teams plenty to do. And as our Mill Lane project gets underway, Robert’s area of operations will be growing considerably in size. All in all, it’s no lazy summer for Robert and his team, but it’s worth it to make sure that our students arrive in October to safe, comfortable rooms and our College looking its best.

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