Imperial Bricks has supplied bricks for a new structure within an 18th century National Trust listed property. Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire, was a complete industrial community built around a cotton mill in the Cheshire countryside. In November 2017 the mill was closed to allow refurbishment, including construction of a passenger lift to give access to the whole site for people with mobility issues. It re-opened to visitors in summer 2018.
Contractor HH Smith and Buttress Architects in Manchester were responsible for Quarry Bank Mill’s £9.4 million restoration and renovation. The whole project took close to four years and was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund and thousands of generous donors. It is one of the biggest projects in the National Trust’s history, an important step in the conservation charity’s continuing commitment to bringing the stories of its properties to life.
To keep the authentic look of the mill, it was essential that the new structure blended seamlessly into the old. Imperial Bricks was approached to provide bricks for the new lift shaft to match the existing brickwork around the lift shaft area. Brick matching is a service offered by Imperial – if stock bricks can’t offer a close match, it’s possible to have a custom product created. The brick matching service will compare colour, size, texture and weathering to produce an exact match.
Imperial’s expert brick match team visited the site to record the colour and size of the old bricks. Jason Hughes, managing director, commented: “It’s the kind of project we love! We visited the site to photograph the existing brickwork, then had sample brick boards made up in various shades so the architect could select the best match. After careful matching, 8,000 3” Reclamation Handmade bricks with a bespoke weathered finish were supplied. It’s a rustic red multi brick that’s particularly suited to old Cheshire buildings and has been a very popular choice for matching period properties across the North West. It was a very rewarding project and it’s a privilege to be able to contribute to the renovation and improvements of such a historic property.”
The Mill at Quarry Bank was closed during the building work but the rest of the properties on the site and the grounds remained open to the public. Access to the site is shared by the visiting public, staff and construction traffic so deliveries from Imperial Bricks had to carefully schedule deliveries to comply with robust health and safety requirements. During construction the public was still admitted to the grounds and other buildings on the site, so their safety was a high priority.
Imperial Bricks works closely with contractors, planners and conservation officers to ensure the most suitable bricks are used in heritage projects. There is always a solution, even for the most unusual sites: even if there is no suitable brick from stock, our free brick matching service will produce a bespoke blend. It’s even possible to correct past mistakes; existing brickwork can be tinted to make sure the end result is right. Ask your local merchant for their regionally-appropriate handmade brick selection, and test panels for heritage projects can be delivered on-site.