darwen-town-hall

Darwen Town Hall

Darwen Town Hall was built in 1880 as the town’s primary municipal building and market hall. With its neoclassical design, the building is a striking landmark.

Retaining its original covering and features, the main elements of the roof had reached their end of life, so Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council instructed Complete Roofing Systems to deliver a full restoration.

Having discovered several issues that were not visible when the original survey was conducted, the project was particularly challenging.

Slating

As with all heritage projects, we endeavoured to maintain the stunning aesthetics of the 19th century roof, so we stripped the existing slates and sorted, cleaned and reused them where possible.

After stripping the existing slates, we found that some of the timber around the clock tower had rotted through years of leakages, so we had to replace it before slating could begin.

Leadwork

The leadwork elements of the project were complex. We replaced the existing lead, which was not fit for purpose due to its quality and thickness, plus the way it had been installed, and welded lead flashings and drip edges for all the main elevations, as well as two internal Roman gutters.

The original Roman gutters were stripped out and replaced during a stifling hot period in June. To ensure the health and safety of our operatives, we created a 1.5m opening in each side of the roof to allow airflow through the extremely tight roof cavity, and we phased the works, with two operatives swapping shifts throughout the day, allowing regular breaks.

In addition, we unexpectedly had to replace the vertical lead panels at the base of the clock tower. The lead panels were fitted over 100 years ago when construction and roofing practices were very different and builders didn’t have the same knowledge and understanding of materials that we have today. As a result, the lead was fitted without leaving space for expansion and contraction in varying temperatures, causing the lead to stress and crack in hot weather, which led to regular water ingress.

The clock tower

We took great care in restoring the building’s iconic clock tower to its former glory. After stripping the old paint, we discovered two of the clock faces had severe wood rot, so we commissioned a local bench joiner to make two bespoke clock face rings. Then, to prevent it from happening again, we cut back the existing lead and installed a new drip. We also replaced some of the louvres and added a lead cap to protect them. Once the remedial works were complete, we redecorated the clock tower in its instantly recognisable white and blue.

Client

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Project Location

Darwen, Lancashire

Roof Type

Slating & Liquid

Building

Municipal

System

  • Yates & Company slates in blue
  • Bauder LiquiTOP System
  • Guttercrest aluminium gutters and downpipes
  • Crown Paints in Northern Sky and Summer Blue

Business as usual

On top of the building and installation challenges, the town hall was fully operational throughout the project. This included the municipal staff based in the building, as well as a few fixed retailers and an indoor market, operating five days a week.

Of course, the safety of staff, customers and members of the public was our utmost priority, as well as minimising disruption for the building’s occupants. We paid particular attention to scaffolding requirements, undertaking a phased method of works and only carrying out scaffolding works on Sundays and Tuesdays when the market is not in operation, which reduced disruption on busy market days.

Communication with the occupiers was critical. Our Contracts Manager dedicated additional time to the project, so he was able to build strong relationships with the tenants and keep them fully informed and at ease throughout the project.

crs

A new heritage roof

Despite these challenges and unforeseen issues, the project was a resounding success. Darwen Town Hall’s stunning heritage features have been restored, but it now has a quality roof, which meets modern standards and will be waterproofed for many years to come.

What the client said

“The Darwen Town Hall project was a high-profile scheme for Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council and the works were of a specialist nature due to the building’s heritage and the detailing and leadwork requirements. During the time on site, CRS highlighted issues in the existing fabric/finishes to the roof, which were primarily due to lack of detailing, lack of maintenance and workmanship practices carried out at the time of the original installation.

“CRS explained to the team what the issues were and how these could be rectified, and a solution was reached and subsequently instructed. We have found CRS to be an extremely reliable and knowledgeable contractor and their knowledge of leadwork and slating is exceptional. The standard of workmanship was outstanding and the operatives’ performance on site and the site management was exemplary. I would not hesitate in using CRS again.”

Wendy Penman Building / Estates Surveyor, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
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