Installing 600km of fibre cabling to bring a 500-year-old castle up to date is no mean feat, especially when the prospect of a harsh Scottish winter is in the offing.
But VAR React Technologies is gearing up to do just that at the historic Taymouth Castle in Scotland. Steeped in history, the castle stands on the grounds of the ancient Ballock Castle, which was built in 1550 for Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. The building features a central staircase that soars 80ft through all four storeys of the tower.
During its considerable lifetime, the building has been a family home, entertained Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort in 1842, been a hospital for Polish servicemen and also a school for the children of US servicemen. However, it was taken over in 1925 and set up as a golf club, with a course by renowned designer James Braid.
After a period of financial uncertainty, the estate was acquired by Meteor Asset Management in 2010 with the intention of developing the castle into a luxury hotel, spa and conference suite, and also to build leisure and residential properties around the estate, including an equestrian centre.
The existing golf course will be extended from 6,066 yards to 7,100 yards, with the work being headed by Scottish golfer Stephen Gallacher, nephew of former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher. Work on the golf course will be completed next year.
The project includes the installation of an entire networked IT system to bring the building right up to date and ensure the most technologically advanced housing around the site.
This is where React came in. The VAR was the favourite company to install a range of technologies including high-speed wired internet access, secure wireless LAN and public hotspots, VoIP, voice over wireless LAN, pay-per-view IPTV, electronic door entry, videoconferencing and IP CCTV.
Long overdue investment
Jess Thompson-Hughes (pictured, left), managing director of React, said: “The castle has been under-invested in for a long time, and Meteor Group bought it from administrator KPMG and also managed to get Perth and Kinross Council to grant planning permission to redevelop the castle and grounds, and build a number of executive homes on the estate.
“The building and surrounding estate had absolutely no internet access, so our challenge was to lay all the fibre cabling needed to ensure the castle was brought right up to date and the homes meet the extremely high spec. This meant laying 600km of fibre cabling just to start with. And because the castle walls are 13 to 14in of granite, it is certainly a challenge getting the system in place,” he said.
Technology from HP, Barracuda, Motorola, Ascom, Borri, Zultys, Astra and Polycom will be included.
Each of the executive homes will also be extremely high tech - boasting its own comms cabinet, two fibre cores, IPTV, VoIP handsets, CCTV, electronic door entry and a UPS system. The houses will also all be linked to the main castle network, to ensure they are monitored around the clock.
“We are expecting to get the core infrastructure on the site by November and most of the technology will be in place by next spring,” Thompson-Hughes added.
“We are anticipating four teams of four people working around the clock to get everything installed on time. Eight people will stay on site from now until the project has finished.”
Thompson-Hughes said the other main challenge faced by React is the Scottish weather.
“It is quite extreme weather up there and all the digging has to be finished before the winter sets in or we will never be able to get the cable in the ground,” he said. “It is a race against time.”
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