Celebrating 25 Years in the Bahamas

Published: Aug 31 2022

Celebrating 25 Years of PHD in the Bahamas – An interview with Bernard Dwyer.


Bernard, can you tell us why today is of major importance to you?

Twenty-five years ago, on the 31st August 1997, the world was shaken by the death of Princess Diana. It was the same day that I alighted from a plane in the Bahamas – having been transported across the Atlantic by Freddie Laker (Founder of Laker Airways). I was accompanied by 22 hand-picked scaffolders from the UK, tasked with erecting scaffolding to The Atlantis, Paradise Island.

The highlight of the project was to provide an underslung deck to the façade of The Bridge Suite, Royal Towers, Atlantis. The Bridge Suite became the world’s most expensive hotel room – providing party space for the great and the good.


Can you highlight some of the main challenges during the project?

The challenge was to fix a deck under the structure about 240 ft high.  The client had previously invited two of America’s best known scaffold providers to deliver a solution.  They quickly concluded that this was impossible – thus enter PHD.

They required a scaffold to permit the installation of theming and the ornamental seahorses under the soffit of the 8,000 sq. ft Bridge Suite.

The program dictated that the scaffold could not be sprung from the ground as the famous Mandara Spa was a work in progress and Mr. Kerzner (Legendary Owner & President of Sun International) was determined to position some 40 to 60ft palm trees underneath the Suite.

Furthermore, we could not truss out from the Suite itself and nor could we use the balconies. The roof of The Bridge Suite was not load bearing. However, the biggest problem was that we could not puncture the GRF Soffit Panels which were to be fixed beneath – which had been delivered on a special adapted barge from the USA in large impenetrable 18m panels.


Surely this wasn’t a run of the mill job, can you explain how you achieved this?

We proposed to bridge underneath The Bridge longitudinally – but no beam exists that could do this 179ft span. PHD came up with a plan that involved precision drilling and the use of abseilers. We were allowed to drop two stainless steel half inch wire bonds to two very small one-inch tramways that ran the length of The Bridge. These became the suspension point for a scaffold built using an umbrella theory – suspended at the one-third and two-third points on an 84ft-wide span. In truth, we did not have the computer models that we have now, and the design calculations were done manually.

We had to account for the hurricane loads and winds – but never for one moment thought we would be hit by one, as was the case during the time the scaffold was erected. Whereupon we had to de-clad the scaffold structure.


We know PHD are synonymous with achieving the impossible, can you tell us some of the main people who made this feat possible?

This process was carried out by our team leaders & scaffolding legends:

Noel Dwyer (RIP) | Tony McCann (RIP) | Dai Mc Gee (RIP) | Steve Pollecutt | Tony Meacock | Brendan Thornton | Anton & Garry Martin

Without the dedication of the previously mentioned and the support of the handpicked scaffolders, this would still be considered the impossible by today’s standards.

How we got scaffolders into position up there – even spiders would struggle to form a web!