St John’s ABC Buildings


Grade 2


6 Weeks





The brief 

We were initially asked to paint some rendered sections of the historic St John’s ABC building in Manchester’s city centre. The project had been started by another company, but due to access constraints they’d been unable to complete the work to a satisfactory standard.  

There were no such access problems using rope access, so much so that the anticipated one-week job was extended to six weeks as we were asked to carry out extra work. 

The building 

The ABC buildings were built in three stages between 1959 and 1965. Today, the three buildings house a modern workspace, leisure outlets such as coffee bars, a gym and the Everyman cinema, and The Metronome, a new work and social space for the music and tech industry. 

This is a modern building that needs to look on-trend. Maintenance and continued development will keep the building at the forefront of emerging creative industries.  

The work 

Once we had completed the initial rendering, we were asked to snag most of the building to coincide with the main contractor completing the major works, and the imminent closure of the site. 

The snagging included concrete repairs, render splash removal, render painting, render repairs, window sealants, expansion joint inspection, vent installation and a builder’s clean. 

Rope access proved to be a cost-effective and practical solution for the client 

Rope access was the best option for this work, as access time, space and money were all limiting factors. Due to the building’s city centre location, moving large plant on and off site would have been expensive and slow, requiring road closures and night work. 

Benefits to the client 

Using rope access to reach all areas lowered the client’s cost and avoided the inconvenience of accommodating large machinery and closing off sections of the pavements outside the building.  

Our versatility meant that we could complete a range of jobs that would otherwise have required the deployment of separate contractors.  

Benefits to people who use the building 

The ABC buildings are an iconic part of Manchester’s city centre. As a contemporary work and social space, they should be fully maintained and look the part. By completing the work efficiently and to a very high standard, we contributed to providing a space to be enjoyed by those who use the facilities. 

The building was completely safe to others while we carried out our work. Users of the building weren’t inconvenienced in any way, as there was no need for machinery that causes an obstruction. This is particularly important in a building that has people coming and going continually throughout the day. 


"We were the second Rope Access company to attend this project, as the first had not been able to meet the client's needs. The original request was to attend the site for a week however, this was extended to 6 weeks as we picked up additional requests from the client. We carried out render repairs, painting, inspection, and cleaning works. As well as remedying the previous contractor's failed works."
Matthew Lavery
Director, ORB Rope Access

Get In Touch

At Orb Rope Access we are very proud to be an IRATA Member Company and hold Safe Contractor status. If you are looking for a trusted partner to assist with projects that require working at height or confined space, please get in touch for a no-obligation quote or by calling 0781 333 9064.