Scaling London’s skyscrapers: window cleaning in the capital

by MARINA LEIVA

The Shard is one of the most Instagrammed places in London. Every day, visitors head to the top to admire the view and share it with the rest of the world on social media. Those perfect pictures owe a lot to people like Aaron Thurgood, 29, one of the most highly skilled window cleaners in London.

This is not a job for the faint-hearted. Luckily this isn’t an issue for Thurgood. He admitted to being “a bit of an adrenaline seeker. I like whatever gets my heart going. You don’t know that you’re alive until you’re afraid of things,” he said.

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The average salary for a window cleaner in the capital is around £22,000 a year, but as Thurgood explained, “it all depends on experience and if you’re on abseiling or cradles.

“I’ve been a window cleaner since I left secondary school. My dad had a window cleaning round,” he said. 

“As soon as I left school, I started doing houses and then I moved abroad for ten years.”

Thurgood spent his time abroad in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, helping out at his dad’s British restaurant.

When he returned to the UK, he started applying for window cleaning jobs and “luckily fell into a great company and [got to] work with amazing people.

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“Once you’re a window cleaner, you’re always a window cleaner,” he said.

The Shard’s 1,016ft glass facade is the same size as eight football pitches put together, but London’s tallest building is not his biggest challenge.

“I’d say the News Building is pretty hard, it takes longer than most,” he said, referring to The Shard’s neighbour.

“Although there’s a lot more windows in the Shard, the News Building is harder to clean because the windows are smaller.”

In spite of this, the sheer size of these buildings makes them tricky to clean in rough weather. “The Shard is very high and it can get windy. The weather changes within minutes, so you can clean just two windows and have to come back in because the wind has changed direction,” he said.

Aaron’s advice to those on the other side of the glass: “Stop putting your hands on the windows, ’cause somebody has to clean them!”