A refurbishment project for West Berkshire Museum is well on its way to completion; work on site began in May 2013 and is set to complete in March 2014.
The renovation project was necessary due to the listed building previously failing fire precautions and being forced to close. The project has been supported by a £1.2million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The museum was in a very decrepit state before the project began. The building is very long and thin and is listed at either end; it is Grade One Listed to one side and Grade Two Listed at the other. The Listed nature of the building made the construction project more complex and ensured that main contractors Feltham Construction and architects Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams were extremely cautious throughout the build.
Premier Construction caught up with Mike Thurlow, Director of MT Property Consultants, who acted as the External Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor on the project. Mike told us there were three parts to the project; the refurbishment of the Grade 1 listed Clock hall building, the extensive refurbishment and renovation of the Corn Store grade two listed building and the demolition and rebuilding of the link block.
The Clock Hall has been left relatively untouched so as to retain the building’s historic feel. The old render has been removed which had been keeping the building damp and the back of the building has been re-rendered. The ground floor level of the building is also being re-rendered inside of the property where there have been issues with the damp. Apart from these minor alterations the building has remained the same as it was previously.
The Corn Store has undergone an extensive renovation including being reroofed, the tiles have been stripped and re-laid, improving the existing brick work and refurbishing the property’s old windows. The building now has new timber flooring and has been rewired, re-piped and fitted with new display cases and new lighting.
The third building was built in1930 and was in a bad state so has now been demolished and rebuilt. The building now acts as the museum’s new reception, museum space and toilets. The new building has been externally clad and fitted with coloured green render, as well as glass being installed at the front of the building. The link room is therefore very different to the other two buildings due to its modern façade and interior.
Mike said the team did encounter difficulties during the project:
“We had to strip asbestos out of the building which made the project more challenging as it involved pulling down and reinstalling walls and ceilings. The project was also delayed by a further two weeks because of an external service diversion.
“Despite the challenges Mike said the project has been enlightening for MTP Consultants. Due to the nature of the building the work required has been very distinct due to the three different phases of the works. We have worked closely with the museum curators and with West Berkshire Council who we have worked with previously.
“The interest level from the locals has been second to none because everyone is eager to see the project develop. I think it will have a huge impact on the community as it is a massive improvement on the previous building and offers an accessible, light and airy space for visitors to explore.”