Case studies

Barry Ice Central

The Site: Central Park, Barry,
South Wales

Central Park lies in the heart of Barry, close to a selection of shops and cafes. A popular spot for families with young children who use its play area and also with
office workers as a relaxing lunchtime retreat, the park is open from 8.00am to 8.00pm every day. Offering a basketball court and perhaps more unusually, facilities for French Bowls, Central Park is a well maintainedn site, well-placed to host community events. Operated by Vale of Glamorgan Council, who work hard to encourage full use of the space, the park has secured a Green Flag Award. Launched in 1996, The Green Flag Award Scheme is the benchmark UK-wide standard for parks and green spaces.

The Background:
In the lead-up to Christmas, the council wished to increase footfall into the town centre to give a boost to local trade and promote a festive community spirit. Temporary ice rinks are becoming an increasingly popular feature in the landscape of the festive events season and the council decided to centre a programme of attractions in the park around the theme of Ice Central. Experienced provider, Cardiff-based company, 11th Hour was engaged to supply a covered ice-rink that would remain in place for nine days and maximise the amenity value of the park during an important trading period for local businesses. 11th Hour is equipped to supply a bespoke ice rink service, tailored to meet the scale and budget of a range of organisations. This was Barry’s first venture of its kind and 11th Hour supplied a complete package, including a fully covered ice rink, power and distribution, lighting, sound, marshalling ticketing and staffing

The Installation:
At Ice Central, 11th Hour supplied and installed an ice rink 20m x 8m. Construction of the rink and covering roof took just two days and a further two days were required to form the ice. All materials and equipment were transported by two 4×4 vehicles with trailers and a team of six staff were responsible for building and dismantling the installation.

The installation at Barry was removed in two days. Each different installation presents unique challenges and 11th Hour has the flexibility and capacity to meet every demand. During the installation at Barry, the team experienced severe weather conditions and initial problems with water and electricity supply but the outcome for the customer was unaffected. The covered rink opened on schedule, manned by four 11th Hour staff and attracted more than 3600 skaters during the period it was open, fulfilling the council’s aims and prompting one councillor to regret in the press that the rink wasn’t in place for longer, such was its positive impact.

John Davies, Director at 11th Hour offers this view: “People love ice-skating! From the smaller, community centred rinks to the large highend installations, we see a real appetite for the benefits that ice rinks can bring. There are certainly different demographics at play in contrasting locations but the common denominator of having fun is inescapable and the figures don’t lie. The fact that we’re able to provide any scale of provision, with as few or as many ancillary services as necessary, means that an ice rink, large or small, is a viable proposition as a stand-alone facility or as part of an integrated event. We have a flexible, highly experienced team at 11th Hour who will deliver without fail.”

Rinks require a firm, even and stable grounding and deck systems are often put to use to achieve this. The use of a highly efficient mat system of 300mm wide ice ribbons is key to every install, large or small. The system creates ice quickly using a non-toxic, bio-degradable refrigerant with high heat-transfer efficiency, comprising a 40/60 blend of food-grade glycol antifreeze and water. To form the ice quickly, the chillers are set to -12C but once established, particularly in the controlled conditions offered by a covered rink, the rink surface can be maintained at around -2C – 0C, significantly reducing environmental impact and promoting energy cost savings. Where ice rinks are open to the elements, energy costs may be higher as a result of chillers working harder to counteract the effects of higher ambient temperatures.

Ice is checked regularly during the operation of the rink and its surface is maintained either by machine or, in the case of small rinks, by hand. The process by either method involves scraping away the surface, dispensing with the ‘snow’ created by the process and spraying water to reinstate a smooth, slippery finish. This takes place as required, typically between sessions. Where possible, particularly at larger installations, the ‘waste snow’ removed by a machine, known as a Zamboni, is placed into a heated tank where it is melted and re-used for the surfacing process. Covered ice-rinks offer the certainty of skating in all weathers. 11th Hour uses clearspan marquee structures that offer an outdoor feel whilst protecting skaters from the elements. The covering structures are rated to withstand 80mph winds and only at this point would a rink be closed. To date, no 11th Hour rink has been closed due to inclement weather, something that cannot be said of uncovered outdoor rinks in the UK’s increasingly erratic winters. This reliability ensures that skaters are happy, revenue streams are unaffected and environmental impact is reduced by the capacity to maintain the surface in the most efficient way possible.