RETIREMENT home bosses hit on a novel way to keep bricklayers working on a £9m development when snow threatened to disrupt progress.

Middleton Hall Retirement Village, in Middleton St George, near Darlington, hired a vast marquee so that builders – who would normally have been laid off during the freezing conditions – could keep working.

Work on 35 independent living bungalows, as well as wetland and a duck pond, began in September.

Managing director Jeremy Walford said: “Everyone laughed when I suggested what we needed was a marquee, but the logic is that marquee companies are not busy at this time of year and we want to keep building.

“It’s certainly a bit different from the usual wedding use for a marquee.

“The bricklayers were also a bit surprised, but of course they’re probably the only bricklayers working on an outside site in this weather.

“Normally they would be unable to work until the weather improves as they can only lay bricks when the temperature is at least two degrees.

“With a little background heating in the marquee, they can keep working and the bungalows will be ready for summer as planned."