British Security Technologies provides the security systems for Westminster Abbey’s new Cellarium Café

Westminster Abbey would certainly rank as one of the very top tourist attractions in London and with interest in visiting the UK’s capital likely to be revitalised following the success of the 2012 Olympics, the world famous abbey could be seeing even more visitors. Construction of the current church began as long ago as 1245 with the most recent additions to the structure only added in the 19th century. During its long history the Abbey has seen at least 16 royal weddings and funerals for famous figures such as Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and William Wilberforce.

Even in such a religious and historic place people have to eat and so Westminster Abbey has opened the new Cellarium Café to provide hospitality to visitors in the ancient Benedictine tradition. The Café is located in the Cellarium which is a part of the 14th century fabric of the Abbey where the monks used to keep their food and drink. The beautiful Cellarium Café is set over two floors and provides a wide range of food and drink to visitors.

So where does British Security Technologies fit in with all this? Well even in Westminster Abbey sound security is a necessity and we were selected to provide the security systems for the café. The first part of the job was to survey the site and make recommendations as to the types of security systems required to keep both the visitors and the building safe. Our recommendations included a wireless fire alarm system which would network to the main Westminster Abbey system, an IP digital CCTV system, door entry and emergency disabled call systems.

The next stage of the project was to plan and co-ordinate with a host of other contractors to ensure that we were able deliver the security systems on time and on budget, particularly given the complications of working in such a historic building. In order to comply with the strict aesthetic and regulatory obligations, we initially designed all our systems to operate totally wirelessly and therefore eliminate the potential for unsightly cables running to security devices such as cameras, smoke / heat detectors and emergency call points etc. Consideration also had to be given to the fact that as a grade 1 listed building with full public access safety considerations were as important as aesthetics.

Work was initially delayed after the discovery of a major 14th century foundation wall that had not been shown on any of the original drawings, work was halted whilst these foundations were carefully excavated and documented as they may have contained vital fragments of previously unearthed historical artefacts. After 3 months delay the site was finally cleared for the continuation of works. Our initial forecasts for totally wireless working were reassessed by our site engineers and we redesigned the systems to work as a digital hybrid ie: part wired – part wireless – fully integrated to gain the maximum operating efficiency versus aesthetic compliance. We discovered that the combination of 12 foot thick ancestral walls combined with the massive reinforced steel structures played havoc with wireless transmissions. The wireless transmission paths were reassessed many times during the construction process to ensure that the final systems would operate without undue interference.

We are proud to say that all aspects of the work were successfully completed and the Westminster Abbey Cellarium Café is now open to visitors who can admire and enjoy the architectural splendour of their surroundings knowing that their safety has been taken care of by British Security Technologies.

Credit to:

EMS Firecell wireless fire detection systems

Vista digital surveillance cameras and network video recorders

BPT door entry systems

Alpro deadlocking bolts

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