Skip to main content
St Catharine's College, Cambridge Search

Update on recent and upcoming works

The following information has been shared with the College’s students, staff and Fellows by email by the Operations Director.

Last updated: 30 November 2020


We have made steady progress across the College’s major building projects that will enable us to develop new, state-of-the-art facilities and revitalise our much-loved historic buildings.

It has only been 7 weeks since I last provided an update but, even in that short time, students, staff and Fellows have worked ever more closely to support different aspects of these important projects. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in discussions around the planning and execution our building works.

Update on the Central Spaces project

For a reminder about what we are trying to achieve with the Central Spaces project, please visit

Temporary hall and kitchen

The pace of progress with the Central Spaces project is clearly visible in Main Court now that the new marquee has been constructed to house our kitchen and hall until the project’s completion in 2022. It is important that we feel comfortable using this temporary structure, so look out for:

  • your chance to help choose a name, as part of the JCR’s competition encouraging students to submit and vote on possible names;
  • our gardeners softening the views of the marquee with planting; and
  • images from the College’s past and present decorating the interior.

Access and movement around Main Court

Our distinctive gates at the front of College have been replaced and will be stored safely off-site, in order to avoid any damage during the main phase of works. In addition, temporary walkways have been installed around the marquee to enable contractors to move safely from Chapel Court to Queens’ Lane.

Noise and disruption

Noise tests were scheduled earlier this term to assess to the level of noise and disruption that our community can expect in the coming months, so we can put in place the best mitigation measures possible and help us manage and better tolerate the disruption. Conversations are ongoing with the specific households that were most severely disrupted by the tests so we can develop some solutions, to be discussed and agreed with the JCR Committee and our wider College community. This may include providing alternative study space, either on or off site, especially during quiet periods, which we recognise may include exam time.

Rotating the McGrath Centre staircase

This element of the project will improve connections between the JCR, a new garden room, the bar and the McGrath auditorium. With protective hoarding in Chapel Court and inside the McGrath Centre, contractors were able to proceed with demolishing the existing stairs.

Looking ahead

While most of the work scheduled for the next few weeks will be ‘behind the scenes’, there are a few key activities that I wanted to ensure everyone was aware of:


Relevant area



28 November

McGrath Centre

Central Spaces

Saturday working by contractors to paint the steel structure of the stairs – no disruptive work expected

30 November–

3 December

Main Court

Central Spaces

Installation of crane base slab – some noise expected between 8.30am and 5.30pm

5 December

McGrath Centre

Central Spaces

Saturday working by contractors to construct timber landings – some noise is expected between 8.30am and 5.30pm

11–15 December

Main Court

Central Spaces

Installation of crane by D staircase, including a temporary track to move it into position. Occasional restrictions to access to the Hall doorway and Chapel doorway. Changes likely to routes in Main Court and Chapel Court so please take care and allow extra time. Noise expected from 7am on 14 December

14 December

Hall & SCR

Central Spaces

Seated dining closed – takeaway available from the Bar

14–18 December

Temporary kitchen & hall

Central Spaces

The Catering team starts service from this new location in Main Court and the old Hall will close. Further information on exact timings for this switchover will be circulated closer to the time.

19 December

McGrath Centre

Central Spaces

Saturday working by contractors – no disruptive work expected


The Island site

Central Spaces

Some pre-scheduled, short power shutdowns, which will be publicised in advance to those living and working in affected areas of the site


L&M staircases

Sherlock Court

Initial activity to open up parts of the building to assess what is needed to renovate this area and help us develop a schedule of works focused on the summer vacation over the next 3 years. We will be in contact with any students remaining in College during the vacation if their room or household is likely to be affected.

Late January

The Fellows’ car park

Central Spaces

Set-up of cabins for contractors to use for welfare purposes 

Find out more about our major building projects.