Thomasons, in partnership with architects Buttress, restored the Grade II* listed Victorian Conservatory at Wentworth Castle near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, into a visitor gateway as part of the World at Wentworth project.
Constructed in 1885 by Crompton and Fawkes, this rare surviving glasshouse is a fragile structure that had been on the Buildings at Risk Register.
The project was carried out using heritage methods and materials. Thomasons designed carefully considered interventions to prolong the Conservatory’s lifespan, while staying faithful to its original design. Wherever possible, components were renovated, without resorting to the easier option of replication.
The project works encompassed an exceptionally detailed appraisal of all the structural members prior to dismantling and renovating the Conservatory. They also included extending the rear potting shed to form a new Visitor Centre and creating a large terrace in front of the Conservatory.
Substantial remedial action was taken to return the Conservatory to its former glory. This included new cast iron columns, which incorporate rodding eyes to prevent water back-up as the columns take roof drainage; designing new gutters using ductile iron; recasting the cleats connecting the glazing bars to the gutters; reinstating the original fenestration and increasing the size of glazing bars so that thicker glazing using toughened hand drawn panes could be introduced.
For this meticulous renovation, Thomasons won the top award in The Institution of Structural Engineering North West Structural Awards 2014, in the Best Sustainable Project category.
“The challenges of restoring this fragile 140-year old Conservatory were immense. Working as part of an integrated team, Thomasons engineers showed exceptional professionalism and expertise in finding solutions to complex technical issues that had initially seemed insurmountable. Their determination and sensitivity in retaining original elements wherever possible has faithfully preserved the heritage of this unique structure. The outcome speaks for itself and we are delighted with the result.” Claire Herring, Director Wentworth Castle and Stainborough Park Heritage Trust