10 years since suspended fibrous plaster ceiling collapse in London theatre

image of apollo theatre london

Ten years have elapsed since part of the decorative suspended fibrous plaster ceiling collapsed at the Apollo Theatre on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, as Artisan Plastercraft questions if enough is being done to monitor the ceilings of similar buildings.

On 19th December 2013 part of the ornate plasterwork ceiling failed and brought down part of the lighting rig, 45 minutes into a sold-out performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night-Time, injuring 76 people – seven seriously.

Following the incident managers of all historic buildings were asked to check the safety of their ceilings. Just a year after the collapse a Westminster Council spokesperson told the Guardian that as a result of initial investigations into the incident ‘we have a responsibility for health and safety reasons to issue guidance to owners of historic buildings, English Heritage, the National Trust and others regarding ongoing maintenance of similar ceilings.’

In 2015 the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) published a document titled Guidance Note 20, in which it was recommended suspended fibrous plaster ceilings should be regularly inspected by competent plaster experts to make sure buildings open to the public are safe for occupation.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request has shown just 11 advisory notices have been issued to building managers by councils in London.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council issued six advisory notices and Kensington & Chelsea issued five. All other inner city councils – City of London, City of Westminster, Wandsworth, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington and Camden – have not issued any advisory notices.

Our recent press release raises the question is enough is being done to monitor plaster ceilings in historic public buildings. Michael Arney, director at Artisan Plastercraft, comments: “We predict there are hundreds of buildings across London which need to be inspected – not to mention other areas of the country.

“The collapse at the Apollo was a stark reminder – but we are concerned that lessons have not been learned and very little action has been taken over the last 10 years.

“We want to raise awareness of this issue before someone is hurt or even killed.”

Read the full press release: Apollo Theatre ceiling collapse – what lessons have been learned 10 years on?

 

All press enquiries should be addressed to Dani Wozencroft at J&PR.

Ceiling inspections and surveys

Fibrous and Lime plaster ceiling appraisals for historic buildings.
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