Quarry Bank Mill- Glasshouse Restoration

19th January 2017

Dorothea Restoration had the privileged of restoring the cast and wrought iron structure which forms the wonderful glasshouses at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal. The ironwork structure was built in the early 19th century where it provided fruit for the Greg family until 1936 when Ernest William Greg pasted away. The land was sold to a private owner who severely neglected the glasshouses and demolished a section of the west lean-to to accommodate a garage. The National Trust managed to acquire the upper gardens during 2010 and have since undertaken the redevelopment and restoration of this area and associated buildings. The glasshouses consist of cast iron rafters, wall plates and glazing bars supported by wrought iron tie bars and braces. The construction required over 800 glazing bars and 40 rafters to support the entire length of the glasshouse. The central dome is created using curved cast iron glazing bars and tie bars spanning the entire width of the dome to support the weight of the glass and any associated wind loadings which might be imposed.

Dorothea Restorations were tasked with the dismantling of the existing dilapidated structure, record keeping which consisted of over a thousand photographs, various sketches and diagrams identifying the original condition of each component. The components were evaluated for wastage, strength and damage before establishing whether they could be restored, repaired or replaced as a last option. Any missing components had to be re-cast using timber patterns in green sand molds taking in account any shrinkage which would occur when casting from an original components.  Dorothea Restorations carry out braze repairs to any damaged components ensuring that we retain as much of the original material and components as far as practicable. All assessments, repairs and hand decoration was carried out within Dorothea Restorations extensive workshop in Bristol before being transported for installation.

Early 2016 the site erection started and the main rafters and tie bars were installed to provide the skeleton structure of the glasshouses while Armitage Construction installed new timber frames and supplied new sash windows to house the cast iron glazing bars and glass. The glazing bars and tie bars were installed within the timber frames, doors and sash windows when ready were glazed with historic restoration glass. Dorothea Restoration was also tasked with replacing the vine hanging system consisting of 11no existing wrought iron hangers, 34 new hangers and 94 brackets which support wires running through the glasshouses. Dorothea Restoration completed the installation during the first week in January, ready for the gardeners to start the planting.