Aluminium at the seaside
Aluminum extrusions from Hydro were chosen for a 1.5-mile-long sea defense railing on the popular seafront in Blackpool in the U.K.
The Blackpool Coastal Defense Scheme is designed to protect 15,000 homes and other buildings on the west coast of England from flooding. The project includes a 3.2-kilometer-long promenade with a fence handrail of aluminum.
Aluminum has many advantages in a project like this: the anodized extrusions are extremely corrosion-resistant and installation was a snap – no welds required.
Oakham Fabrications, an architectural metalworking company in the West Midlands, sourced and installed all the materials used in the project.
Bill Barnes of Western Marketing, a consultant on the project, said that aluminum has proved to be the ideal choice made by the local council.
“In the U.K., the traditional choice has been cast iron and steel,” Barnes explains. “The problem is that they always rust. They can be newly painted in the spring, then weeping red rust by the autumn.
“Stainless steel was also considered, but anodized aluminum met all the requirements.”
Glenn McCrickerd, Hydro’s Development Manager for U.K. aluminum extrusion, says the project is a perfect blend of design and function.
“The railing is in the shape of a breaking wave. It really captured our imagination,” McCrickerd says. “We developed a shape and made a proposal.
“Cast steel or wrought steel would have a future maintenance requirement. They were looking at stainless steel, but the cost would have been prohibitive.
“We optimized the design in aluminum to be efficient functionally and financially. Each extrusion is about 6 meters long and has two channels which hold extruded fasteners that allow attachment to the die cast aluminum posts. Another extrusion forms the spigot joint that connects the rails together without welding.”
McCrickerd says the project could be a showcase for towns such as Blackpool everywhere in the U.K. – even beyond.
“This is a Victorian holiday seaside town with millions of tourists visiting every year and the Promenade is part of their experience. The people at Blackpool will think it’s an amazing material.”
And Barnes the consultant says Hydro and McCrickerd really added value to the project: “Glenn was absolutely brilliant in the information and assistance he gave us. His contribution was second to none.”