Brave window cleaners take on one of Sheffield’s tallest buildings

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Cleaning windows is hard work at the best of times - but when the windows are on one of Sheffield’s tallest buildings it can be quite a ‘pane’.

It takes a trio of abseilers with a head for heights around 10 days to clean the 1,862 windows of Sheffield University’s Arts Tower.

(l-r) Jamie Needham, Adam Lindley and Katie Palling prepare to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Jamie Needham, Adam Lindley and Katie Palling prepare to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

At 255 feet, the tower is the tallest university building in the UK, has 19 floors and was officially opened 50 years ago in 1966.

The cleaning team, from Sheffield-based Cinderella Cleaning Contractors, are in harnesses and abseil down the side of the building, squeegees at the ready.

The tower’s windows are cleaned outside twice a year and inside once a year.

The company uses scaffolding to clean some of the panes inside the building.

Michael Boot with Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseiling down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Michael Boot with Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseiling down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Window cleaning manager Michael Boot said: “All in all it takes around 10 days to clean the outside of the building and about two days for the internal and another two days for the mezzanine floors.

“It is quite a challenge.

“It can be cold - I’ve been here when it’s been raining down below and at the top it has been snowing.”

Adam Lindley, abseiling supervisor, said: “It’s very exciting - I love the views.

Michael Boot with Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseiling down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Michael Boot with Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseiling down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

“I don’t think it’s scary but some of the people looking up think it is.

“People’s reactions differ when they see you out of the window. Some people just look really sick, some people wave and give you a thumbs up, I’ve even had someone do a sketch of me.”

He added that the weather can affect how long it takes to clean the building.

Adam said: “It can be icy up there sometimes. The wind is a major problem but we’ve been quite lucky over the last couple of days.

(l-r) Jamie Needham, Adam Lindley and Katie Palling prepare to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Jamie Needham, Adam Lindley and Katie Palling prepare to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

“We are just careful and make sure we don’t go flying around the corners.

“The top can be really calm but by the time you get halfway down there’s gusts around the side of the building.

“The best conditions are not when it’s sunny but when it is overcast. If it’s on the sunny side, the heat will dry the windows really quickly and you’ve got to be really quick at squeegeeing.

“It can take it out of you.”

(l-r) Jamie Needham, Adam Lindley and Katie Palling prepare to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Jamie Needham, Adam Lindley and Katie Palling prepare to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Adam Lindley helps Katie Palling get ready to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Adam Lindley helps Katie Palling get ready to abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe

Katie Palling and Jamie Needham abseil down the Arts Tower and clean the windows. Picture: Andrew Roe