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The conservatories were a much missed aspect of the estate and Warrington Borough Council worked for four years on developing a successful project.

The project celebrates the heritage of the estate and bestows a wealth of new opportunities through restoration of the Conservatory Range, establishing a hub of learning, engagement and enterprise. It will ensure lasting and sustainable benefits to the heritage of the estate and for local communities – creating opportunities for people to gain new skills and experiences, improvehealthand wellbeing, make social connections and contribute to a success story of rejuvenation, inclusiveness and innovation.

Led by Warrington Borough Council, the project will form a sustainable partnership with Myerscough College and Walton Lea to deliver apprenticeships, qualifications and opportunities for social enterprise. This collaboration will also lead to the development of other areas of the estate, such as the historic formal gardens, conservatory planting and zoo, all of which  will further increase public participation and learning.

The project mission is to:

  • Restore and revitalise the existing conservatory, glasshouses and shippon.
  • Provide innovative teaching and training for young adults and people with disabilities, resulting in a range of pathways to increased wellbeing, work readiness, entrepreneurship and employment.
  • Provide significantly enhanced opportunities for engagement with the estate’s heritage, as well as improvements to its ongoing management, conservation and recording.
  • Strengthen and diversify the existing volunteer programme.
  • Transform the estate’s value as a community resource, delivering increased public participation.
Heritage Fund
The conservatory range project has been Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund since 2016 and will continue to receive funding to engage the public and volunteers in the heritage story until 2022.

Restoration of the Conservatories

The conservatory range was closed to the public in September 1993 and for almost 25 years the buildings fell into disrepair. The buildings remained standing thanks to temporary supporting beams and maintenance from the estate’s rangers and volunteers from The Friends of Walton Estate. The planning for the restoration of the glasshouses was years in development. Thanks to The Heritage Lottery Fund in 2016 we were able to employee a team of heritage specialists to design the restoration works.

The conservatory range restoration

Great care has been taken throughout the restoration of Walton Estate’s conservatory range to preserve the site’s important cultural heritage. The estate is grade listed so planning permission was required and needed to detail all alterations. There have had to be modern alterations made to make the buildings safe and fit for purpose, but everything had to be sympathetic to the original building. Contractors Rosslee Construction were selected following a long procurement process and spent 17 months on site restoring the buildings. The time lapse videos show the work taking place.

Credit Andy Gilbert

Timber framing

The conservatory range contains thousands of pieces of slender, elegant timber. During construction each piece of timber was removed, tagged to mark its original location and assessed for rot. To ensure the site remains structurally safe the original timber has been used internally and new timber has been used for the external, structurally significant beams.

Ironwork

Nearly all the original ironwork has been repaired and reused. Through paint testing the ironwork a number of paint colours were found. One of the most prominent colours, a powder blue, was chosen for the restoration.

Brickwork

The conservatory range’s brickwork was generally in very good condition and over than 90% of the bricks on site today are original dating from 1899-1910. The walls have been dismantled brick by brick, cleaned, assessed for damage and rebuilt. The original lime mortar was analysed and a similar lime mortar has been used. This will allow any moister to leave the walls through the mortar rather than getting within and damaging the bricks.

Credit Andy Gilbert
Credit Andy Gilbert
Rising from the ashes
Follow the progress of this important redevelopment through the lens of Andy Gilbert.