The Arcade Royale, Halifax

In the second half of 2014 we were asked by the building managers to take on the project management of the Refurbishment of the Arcade Royale in the centre of Halifax. The new owners of the lower half of the Grade II listed building had recently let the building to new tenants and were keen to bring the structure back to a sound state after many years of neglect. The external elevations of the building were clad with a white “Marmo” tile developed in the early years of the twentieth century by Leeds Fireclay Company. The white tiles simulated a more expensive marble cladding and are found on buildings all over Northern England. We were contracted to manage scaffolding, cleaning and restoration of the stonework, roof repairs, external painting, internal timber preservation as well as some joinery and internal plastering repairs.

As ever our first step was to erect a scaffold on the Southgate Elevation and clean the tiles. We developed a modified cleaning procedure that involved a mild masonry detergent washed off with super-heated steam followed by a light acidic “wipe”. The cleaning result was a spectacular improvement in the tiles’ appearance to the considerable relief and approval of Calderdale Council’s Conservation Officers. However the cleaning revealed significant water damage to the tiles from failed gullies and leadwork on the roof. Roof tiles were replaced and the gullies cleaned, the leadwork replaced and coated with bitumen. We then secured the Marmo tiles which were in danger of detaching themselves from the structure with over 200 Helifix Terracotta stainless steel ties. We then undertook extensive colour matched tile repairs and repointing. Two internal offices which had suffered from water ingress were repaired, re-plastered and re-decorated. In early 2015 we will start work on the King Edward Street elevations of the building.

The North’s First “Consolidated” Building

What Does Railway Street Huddersfield have in Common with Easter Island, The Statue of Christ outside of Rio de Janeiro or Babylonian Tablets from 600 B.C.?

Early in 2014, we were asked by one of our regular customers, Nu Construction Ltd of Elland to quote for the cleaning and restoration of 6/8 Railway Street, Huddersfield. The building was derelict and had stood empty for nearly thirty years. It had suffered a major fire and other parts of the external paintwork had been painted with a covering that did not allow the building to “breathe”. As a result many of the sandstone features were crumbling back to sand.

In order to properly assess the damage that had been caused to the building over many years we first cleaned the stonework with a light, pressure regulated abrasive blast method using a Calcium Silicate stone grit to remove the paint and in other areas removed many years of carbon staining from atmospheric pollution with our “Steamacc Process” comprising a mild acid spray washed off with super-heated steam. The cleaning process revealed that many of the original stone features window, heads cills, string courses were in very poor shape and would require extensive repair and replacement.

As the ultimate client for the building was already confronting significant cost over-runs in other areas of the refurbishment he asked us to come up with an alternative strategy. The deposition of Silicon Oxide into the crumbling stone structure via a Silicic Acid medium had been developed in Europe and used extensively across the world, including the structures quoted in the first line. As a consolidation process would save an estimated £60,000 in stone repairs it was decided that we should proceed.

All very loose stone was carefully removed by hand. The stonework was then flood sprayed with the Silicic Acid on two occasions, separated by four weeks. As a final piece of insurance the consolidated stonework was treated with a silicone based water repellent. The stone work has regained much of its original strength and is now set for a life of at least 10 years allowing the client to carry out a programme of stone repair and replacement at his leisure.