IHBC members looking to learn more about repair techniques for steel windows will find the stand-alone article by Sophie Godfraind in the latest issue of Context, No 162, themed around New Towns, particularly useful as it gives examples of how to balance the heritage values of steel windows with maintenance and repair issues as they arise, while also stressing the importance of commissioning the right specialist to survey and assess conservation options.
image: IHBC Context 162 – Generator Building, Stow Maries by Sophie Godfraind
Sophie Godfraind writes:
…. Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome in Essex has the largest surviving group of Royal Flying Corps buildings on a first-world-war aerodrome. It saw brief use between 1916 and 1919, and was then abandoned for military purposes. The majority of the first-world-war buildings remain. Most of them are of single-skin brickwork on minimal foundations or footings, with steel-framed windows. Although displaying good levels of craftsmanship, they were not designed to last. Because of their exceptional rarity and architectural interest, all 22 remaining buildings are listed Grade II* (under a single list entry). Although a repair programme is under way, the site remains on Historic England’s buildings at risk register. More than 100 windows are suffering from corrosion and distortion, and need repair. This is a major issue to make the buildings weather tight.
When conservation work first started on the site about 10 years ago, the metal windows were assumed to be cast iron and the site managers at the time assumed that they were beyond repair. Windows in three of the buildings were replaced, some with cast aluminium and others in new cast iron, none of which have the same moulding profile as the originals.
The trust now managing the site is seeking a more sustainable approach, preserving the historic windows and their detailing, in keeping with the approach applied to the rest of the site and building fabric in general….
This case study illustrates the importance of commissioning the right specialist to survey and assess conservation options, based on an understanding of the original metal frames and their present condition. With the right advice and skilled workmanship, these rare windows can be given a new lease of life.
View the full article and images of the case study buildings at
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