Reflection of Queen's Tower in a window

Policy and Procedures for the Use of the Queen's Tower

Tabbed information block

Background and access

1. A short history of the Queen's Tower, together with some details of its structure and its bells, can be requested by emailing Denis Murphy and Sangita Kerai.

2. Policy. The College's policy is to allow access to the Queen's Tower to internal visitors only. However, the Tower has steep and narrow staircases, high outside balconies and other safety hazards and it is therefore essential that access is controlled and made subject to the commonsense precautions set out in this document.

3. General Health and Safety Considerations. Any visit is likely to take around 45 minutes. Sensible, flat heeled footwear should be worn and valuables should be secured. To reduce the likelihood of problems the climbing of the Tower should not be embarked upon by those:

a. Feeling unwell.

b. Suffering from breathing difficulties.

c. With heart problems.

d. With joint problems.

e. With balance problems.

4. Zones. The Queen's Tower is divided into Zones 1 - 6, as illustrated in the diagram The Queen's Tower - Zones [pdf]

a. Zone 1: The area in the centre of the Tower, up to and including the lower balcony.

b. Zone 2: The area in the centre of the Tower, from the lower balcony, up to, but not including, the Upper Viewing Gallery (Zone 4).

c. Zone 3: The Bell-ringing Chamber.

d. Zone 4: The Upper Viewing Gallery.

e. Zone 5: The Upper Balcony, outside the perspex barrier.

f. Zone 6: The area at the top of the Tower, from (and including) the wooden staircase upwards. This is out of bounds to everyone, with the exception of maintenance staff, because of safety concerns relating to the top balcony.

5. Access for Estates Facilities Staff and Contractors.

a. ONLY properly authorised Estates Facilities staff, and those individuals contracted by the Estates Facilities to carry out work, may enter the Tower without the written consent of the Director of Estates Facilities. Estates Facilities staff undertaking frequent climbs of the Tower should have periodic health checks.

b. Zones 3, 5, and 6 are not to be entered except by properly authorised Estates Facilities staff and those individuals contracted by the Estates Facilities to carry out work.

c. Lone Working. There are to be at least two people in the Tower at any one time. Lone working is not permitted.

d. Contractors.

(1) Those contracted by Estates Facilities to do maintenance work on the Tower are not permitted to enter the Tower without the authorisation of the Campus Manager.

(2) Maintenance staff and contractors are not to be authorised to work unless they have completed the required risk assessments and method statements for that work.

(3) Once authorisation has been granted, a representative of the Estates Facilities is to escort contractors to the Sherfield Security Control Room to confirm their authorisation to Security and arrange for the issue of keys.

6. Access for Visitors.

a. With the exception of the Estates Facilities staff and their contractors, ALL those wishing to enter the Queen's Tower must apply to Denis Murphy and Sangita Kerai for written permission to do so.

b. The Security Department will ONLY grant access to the Tower upon production of a letter or e-mail from the Queen's Tower Manager giving approval for the visit.

c. The Queen's Tower Manager will maintain a bookings system for the Queen's Tower which will also act as a record of access to the Tower by visitors, other than maintenance staff. This is particularly important because of the need, in an emergency, to have a record of how many people are in the Tower.

7. Keys.

a. The keys to Zones 1 - 6 are held by Security and the Queen's Tower Manager for the South Kensington Campus.

b. The keys to each Zone are to be held separately, that is not on the same key ring.

c. The keys to Zone 3 are only to be issued to authorised bell-ringers (see Paragraphs 12-14 below) and authorised Facilities Management maintenance staff and contractors (see Paragraph 5 above).

d. The keys to Zones 5 and 6 are only to be issued to authorised Facilities Management maintenance staff and contractors and then only on the prior authority of the Queen's Tower Manager for the South Kensington Campus.

e. All keys borrowed from Security Control are to be signed out by the leader of the visiting group (see below) and signed back in after the visit by Security Control.

Visits to the Tower

8. Group Leaders. Every party of visitors is to have a nominated adult Leader who is to be responsible for the good conduct and safe behaviour of all members of the group.

9. Induction of Group Leaders.

a. Each Leader is to be given an induction into the proper conduct of visits to the Tower. This induction is to be given by the Queen's Tower Manager for the South Kensington Campus and is to cover:

(1) General description of the Tower and the six Zones.

(2) Health and safety risks.

(3) Safety precautions, including the conduct of the visit and the behaviour of visitors.

(4) Actions to be taken in an emergency.

(5) Control of keys.

(6) Prevention of access to the Tower by other non-authorised persons.

b. Wherever possible, induction should include an introductory tour of the Tower for the Leader.

10. Visitors.

a. A maximum of 12 visitors (including the leader of the group) may be in the Tower at any one time. Parties of visitors larger than this must be divided into groups of 12 or less and enter the Tower in turn.

b. All visitors to the Tower are to be accompanied by at least one other person.

11. Visitors Under the Age of 16 are not permitted in the Tower.

Bell ringing

12. The bells are rung at certain pre-arranged times during the year to mark such occasions as Commemoration Day.

13. The chief bell-ringer for the Queen's Tower, referred to as the Tower Captain, is nominated by the College Secretary and is currently Nicholas Small.

14. Bell-ringing in the Queen's Tower demands a high level of expertise. The use of the bells also has obvious noise implications for the College community and for our neighbours. In particular, it may affect events such as conferences and examinations both at Imperial and in the Royal College of Music. The bells may therefore only be rung with the prior permission of the College Secretary who will consult the Tower Captain on the technical competence of any external bell-ringers who wish to use the Tower.

15. Risk Assessments.

a. The Tower Captain is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment on bell ringing in the Tower. This is to be updated annually unless there are significant changes, such as the installation of new equipment, which require a more frequent review.

b. Copies of this Risk Assessment are to be held:

(1) By the Tower Captain.

(2) By the College Secretary


Other activities

16. Recreational abseiling on the Tower is forbidden.

17. The following may be permitted, subject to prior authorisation by the College Secretary:

a. The release of fireworks from the Tower provided that a professional firm is employed for this purpose.

b. The hanging of display material from the Tower.

Safety and maintenance

18. When the Tower is occupied:

a. Those inside the Tower are to close the outer door on the latch behind them to prevent unauthorised entry by other persons.

b. No smoking is permitted anywhere in the Tower.

c. Alcohol is not to be taken into the Tower.

d. The use of portable electrical appliances, such as heaters, inside the Tower is forbidden.

19. General. Maintenance of the Tower is the responsibility of the Estates Division. This includes:

a. Quarterly roof inspections.

b. Checking and clearing out rainwater drainage.

c. Annual Tower Survey.

d. Maintenance of the lightning conductor.

e. Testing the following:

(1) Electrical equipment.

(2) Emergency lighting.

(3) Fire extinguishers.

(4) Turning of the hoist and beam

(5) Telephone

(6) First Aid Box

20. Bells.

a. Maintenance of the bells is the responsibility of the Facilities Management Division, who currently contract the work out to John Taylor Bell Founders.

b. The bells should be inspected annually.

c. Arrangements should be made through the College Secretary for the Tower Captain to be present when the contracted bell maintenance team make their visit.


21. Action on a Medical Emergency.

a. In the event of an emergency Security should be contacted on extension 4444 for assistance.

b. If the casualty is unable to walk, help from LAS and or Fire service will be arranged by College Security.

c. The Estates Facilities is responsible for maintaining a first aid box in the Bell Chamber and for ensuring that this is regularly checked by a nominated person.

22. Action in Case of Fire.

a. Fire extinguishers are in place in the Tower. Their maintenance is the responsibility of the Facilities Management Division.

b. In the case of fire the Tower should be evacuated immediately and Security contacted on extension 4444.

23. Reporting of Defects. If any defects or unexpected Health and Safety risks were discovered by visitors, they should report them to Security Control immediately after their visit.