Topping Off! and Expansion
If you have been visiting the timelapse videos of the expansion you will have seen that the brickwork is complete, the roof is now complete and doors and windows are in!
To celebrate the completion of the roof on the new building we held a 'Topping Off” ceremony. What is a ‘Topping Off’ ceremony? Topping Off is a Pagan tradition and for centuries, builders have celebrated the moment a building structure reaches it's topmost point. The age-old tradition, originally conceived to bestow good luck on a building and ward off evil spirits is now more commonly recognised as an opportunity to thank the workforce and celebrate progress made.
One of the earliest ceremonies was held on 28 March 1393 for the Winchester School, while ceremonies have been referred to in writings since 1400. In the 14th century, it was customary to put a yew tree branch at the highest point of the building to keep evil spirits at bay. Medieval records show that the personal flag of the structure’s owner would be hoisted to the top of the building once the shell was complete. According to other historical documents, a weathercock or vane was placed at the summit. While constructing great mansions, builders would fly coloured flags from the roof to show they needed more materials. Different colours were used to represent stone, brick and timber.
The topping off ceremony is celebrated around the world. There is evidence to suggest that the Egyptians used a live tree in a topping off ceremony for the country’s first stone building. Elsewhere, the story goes that a man was buried in the Great Wall of China’s foundations, after builders completed one of the sprawling structure’s sections in 200 BC. According to an ancient legend, 10,000 people had to be buried beneath the wall but rather than meet with this grim requirement, one person was named "Workman 10,000" and sacrificed accordingly. In Brazil, branches and leaves are attached to the building and the workforce eat, drink and dance as part of a ritual, in Germany laurels are hung around the chimney and the builders, the Danish decorate the roof of the building with evergreen garlands and in Jordan, builders hold a religious ceremony followed by a feast.
A principal guest is often invited to apply the final pour of structural concrete to the highest point of the building. We were joined by members of the The Hamwic Trust together with the Project Manager and members of the construction team and Mr Farmer, CEO of The Hamwic Trust signed the last roof tile to be fitted. In a nod to the past we have placed a yew branch under this last roof tile.
Getting to this stage has not been easy and has involved the hard work and support of many people, all of whom we thanked today. What they have done as a group is to work together to produce an amazing building in which USH will be able to educate our students with levels of comfort, enjoyment and facilities far ahead of those currently offered in the present building. We will hope for trouble free progress towards completion later in the year.