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Jo Brand joins topping out ceremony at drama school

Yew tree is brought onto the roof of new facilities for good luck

15 June, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Jo Brand with Gavin Henderson on the roof of the new building in Eton Avenue [Photos: Marian Alonso]

JO Brand joined a “topping out” ceremony on the roof of a new drama school building on Thursday.

The comedian was at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, and praised new investment in the arts. She said: “I think it will be a positive thing for Central, just because of all the extra space at a time, let’s be honest, when everywhere else is shrinking. Studios for TV in London are just being detonated and made into private flats and I’m really sad about that. So to see something like this go up is really wonderful.”

The school, whose alumni include Dame Judi Dench, Andrew Garfield and Martin Freeman, is creating new rehearsal and performance spaces, as well as film and media studios.

School principal Gavin Henderson, who brought a potted yew tree to the ceremony – a Scandinavian tradition said to be a good omen for a newly constructed building – said: “This is a very historic moment to have actually got to the top here, and this, traditionally, is when we pay tribute to those who designed and actually built the building. It’s the moment the building actually becomes watertight and I believe that was made so just a couple of days ago, so here we are.”

Mr Henderson later told the New Journal: “The design team were essentially given a brief to build as much as they could in a very small space so the job they have done is tremendous and will benefit our students greatly.”

He thanked contractors GRAHAM construction, and Tim Ronalds, the architect behind the Ironmonger Row Baths in Islington and the redevelopment of the Hackney Empire theatre. The complete building works are expected to be completed by October.

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