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Vacant railway arches – an open invitation for illegal activity

Vacant railway arches – an open invitation for illegal activity
Vacant railway arches – an open invitation for illegal activity

Vacant Railway Arches for The Arch Company

Railway arches are tucked away below many of the UK’s historic railway tracks and provide a fantastic opportunity as premises for a wide range of small businesses, such as furniture restorers, metal shops, cafés, hairdressers, micro-breweries, galleries, gyms, motorbike repair shops, and so on.

However, when an arch becomes vacant, it acts like a magnet for illegal activity such as vandalism, illegal raves and even cannabis farms.

Some arches include a car park, and although these can often be relatively small, they’re still an invitation for travellers to occupy, or for fly-tipping.

The unique shape of a railway arch presents its own challenges when security is required, not least because they tend to be open at both ends of the ‘tunnel’.

Our security teams will typically create a bespoke solution for each arch property as required. Sometimes fitting hand-cut galvanised sheet steel to the existing frames, and sometimes building a wooden frame over the entire arch opening as a base to attach the steel sheet.

A Tailored Solution for a Complex Problem

In January 2021, there were reports of vandalism and illegal entry when a rave took place in a vacant railway arch near the Olympic Stadium in London during the Covid pandemic lockdown.

Complaints by the public about the noise were made to both police and the landlord, the Arch Company, leading them to urgently need the site secured against future break-ins.

During the site survey, concerns were raised that the recommended security measures may cause damage to the exterior of the railway arch because of its old brickwork.

Our tailored solution was to construct bespoke wooden frames that were tied into the brickwork, and to which we secured steel sheets, thereby minimising damage when compared to securing steel sheets directly onto the exterior.

The opposite end of the arch was partially bricked-up to incorporate an access point for authorised personnel. The existing roller shutter was locked with only a standard lock and was frequently broken into. Read about our retail lock change service. Our team constructed an additional wooden frame to cover the shutters, to which steel sheets were secured and a steel keyless door installed to allow controlled access for contractors and potential tenants.

Because this arch included a car park, concrete blocks were positioned around the perimeter to deter vehicle access and illegal fly-tipping.

The Arch Company were very happy with the quick and effective security solution we provided at this location. We continue to secure railway arch sites, with more than 85 secured to date, many of which include additional services such as wireless alarm systems and security guards.

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