Engineering experts at SCX Special Projects are celebrating a double achievement this year at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon.
The bespoke engineering arm of Sheffield-based SCX group designed, engineered and installed the new retractable roof over No.1 Court– used for the first time during this year’s Championships.
It’s the second roof that SCX Special Projects has delivered to Wimbledon, having engineered the original Centre Court roof in 2009.
The roof is part of a major three-year redevelopment of No.1 Court. It can be fully rolled out or retracted in an average time of eight and a half minutes, weighs around 1,000 tonnes – as much as 500 Land Rovers – yet glides effortlessly above the 12,000-strong crowd.
And despite its obvious role in ensuring that rain doesn’t stop play, the retractable roof can also be used as a gantry for overhead lights.
Richard Lewis, Chief Executive of the AELTC, commented:
We are delighted that the No.1 Court roof has been successfully used on several occasions, which has enabled us to complete matches that otherwise may have been suspended due to bad light.
The feedback we have had from players and members of the public about the refurbished No.1 Court has been extremely positive.
Andy Whitworth, SCX Special Projects managing director, said:
2019 has been a very proud year for SCX at Wimbledon. It’s a huge privilege to design, build and install a second roof for AELTC at one of the world’s most prestigious sporting venues.
The No.1 Court project demonstrates our capability to deliver unique engineering solutions on a world stage. Our knowledge and expertise in kinetic architecture – the discipline of engineering and safely controlling huge moving structures – was key to the project’s success.
The No.1 Court roof was closed fully for the first time because of fading light during the women’s singles match between Donna Vekicand Alison Riske.
It marked 10 years, almost to the day, since SCX’s pioneering retractable roof over Centre Court was first used, on 29 June 2009, in another women’s match between Amélie Mauresmo and Dinara Safina.
SCX Special Projects has staff on-site operating both roofs throughout the tournament. Lead engineer at SCX Special Projects, John Biggin, reflects on the months leading up to the tournament:
It’s a hugely complex structure, but it could not have been delivered more smoothly. It’s a great testament to what we delivered first time around on Centre Court that our approach is largely unchanged for No.1 Court. The mechanical design is fundamentally the same: it’s the electronics to control the roof that have moved on considerably.
The concertina-style roof is built using 11 trusses that span the 75-metre width of the stadium. The trusses are divided into two groups, both of which can travel independently to any position as required. The trusses are stored at the north end of No.1 Court when not in use, leaving the south end of the stadium open to natural sunlight to help the grass courts grow.
SCX Special Projects specialises in bespoke mechanical handling solutions and is known around the world for its work not only at Wimbledon, but also for creating the first dividing retractable grass football pitch, which made its debut at Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur’s new £850m stadium in May.
Photo Credit: AELTC, Simon Bruty