The Grade II listed Stirchley Baths at the centre of a Birmingham community was restored with the help of the specialist heritage building restoration skills of Bracknell Roofing.
Stirchley Baths have always been central to the surrounding community. With a rich history dating back to the Edwardian Period, a key aspect of the project was to protect and nurture as much of the building’s legacy as possible.
National roofing contractor Bracknell Roofing was appointed by lead contractor Balfour Beatty as it had the skills and expertise to manage this kind of heritage work successfully. As such, it was crucial to the success of the project; providing modern robust coverage, whilst topping off the building with the authenticity required to be consistent with the rest of the structure.
The roofing work involved a number of complex details, including abutments to lead atriums, a feature curved roof, along with the challenge of installing both original slates from the old roof and reclaimed slates from a specialist supplier – Westmoreland Slate and Welsh Slate. Each slate had to be examined thoroughly, with great attention to detail in order to retain the period weathered look of the building which has stood since 1910. A methodical approach had to be employed to re-arrange the slates into segregated areas according to their size, weight and colour. This process was adopted so that the original method of slating could be replicated for ease of installation.
The development carried a heavy responsibility to the local public and without their instrumental involvement in getting the building its Grade II listed status, it would have been difficult to get essential financial backing.
Tony Fisher from lead contractor Balfour Beatty, says: “The roofing needed to be in-keeping with the original aesthetic and vernacular. This included renovating the lead work instead of replacing it, although we were allowed GRP gutters in non-visible areas. We felt Bracknell was one of a few companies who could manage this kind of heritage work successfully and we would absolutely work with them again.”
The roof itself had new structural ties installed and was re-built back up to a level capable of supporting the stone. Prior to this work, the iconic Cupola and flag pole were lifted and stored away for refurbishment.
Tony Fisher continues: “We’ve already had some fantastic feedback from locals. There were site tours carried out frequently during the build works so they could see traditional roof and slating works in progress. They are all glad the building has been restored and not demolished. Everyone’s main concern was that the original roof works caused difficulties with modern safe methods of working. However, Bracknell took on full management of the roofing aspect of the project and ensured that everything was supervised very well and in an organised fashion.”
Ian Bladon, regional contracts director at Bracknell Roofing, says: “We are a skilled roofer in heritage projects, so to have been a part of a project which is central to a community gave us great pride. Having completed the project with the updated structure, we hope that the Stirchley Baths will continue to make history, enriching the lives of the local residents.”