Whitechapel Art Plaster Co Ltd recently completed their package of traditional solid lime, fibrous and ornamental plasterwork to the former Rochdale Fire Service station at Maclure Road in Rochdale. The building is due to welcome visitors this year as the ‘Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum’. The mission statement of the new museum is to preserve and make accessible the history of fire, fire engineering and rescue services in the Greater Manchester region.
Working as a specialist contractor to the main contractor The Casey Group, Whitechapel Art Plaster Co Ltd were chosen to carry out the following works.
- Lime plaster barrel ceilings over existing windows with scratch coats, float coats, and setting coats.
- Repair, match and reinstate the damaged and missing sections of the run-in-situ plaster cornice, running around the perimeter of the main upper floor room.
- Template, match and reinstate the water damaged plaster cornice on the rear access staircase.
- Model, mould,fit and restore the fibrous plaster barrel ribbed beam casings, sprung off newly cast.
- Match solid corbels to the top of plastered wall columns along the length of the room.
With the completion of the above works, the interior of the building started to take shape, ready to be fitted out and open its doors as a new museum.
Involvement in the restoration of traditional solid lime plaster, ornamental plaster and fibrous decorative internal finishes, constitutes a significant part of Whitechapel’s order book, in particular the historic buildings in the Greater Manchester and surrounding counties in the North West of England, where our workshop and head offices are located. We continue to be selected as a preferred specialist contractor, in which we are renowned to complete work to a very high standard.
As Manchester continues to develop as a vibrant North Western hive of activity, Whitechapel Art Plaster Co Ltd have something of value to offer and actively seek opportunities to involve ourselves in prestigious contracts. Where tradition and heritage meet contemporary creative design, the practical application of our skill set can help a project come to fruition, particularly in a change of use scheme.
|In the Greater Manchester Fire Museum, the ribbed beams supporting the large barrel ceiling are protected by fibrous casts, which are easy on the eye, and offer excellent fire protection, as one would expect in a fire service museum.|
The founder of Whitechapel Art Plaster was an apprentice at F W Clifford on the Vauxhall Bridge Road in London in the late 1950’s. He recalled a time when fibrous plaster was often used as a decorative cladding on structural steelwork in passenger ships to give fire protection. He also informs us that fibrous plain face work was used in some of the fine buildings of the capital. In the days before purposely made fire line plaster boards, it served to provide excellent fire protection with an extremely accurate and smooth finish. The plain face was cast on perfectly flat dedicated glass benches in the F W Clifford workshops.
New fibrous plaster arched beam casing to follow barrel ceiling
As a coincidence, it is worth mentioning that shortly after Whitechapel Art Plaster Co Ltd completed their part of the package of plaster works on the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum, we received a request to tender for some bespoke glass reinforced gypsum (GRG) which is a modern day counterpart of fibrous plasterwork and offers excellent fire protection. We were required to quote for some fluted columns, to be installed on a modern-day cruise liner which is currently being readied for a fit out at Southampton. If we win this contract, it will be as the old adage states; “history repeating itself” and will perhaps make an interesting blog in its own right.
Whitechapel continue to expand their portfolio of structures with historical significance. These refurbished structures provide a space that can help to educate, entertain and retain important fragments of the past. As the unfolding of a process improves the present, this then develops the future and gives the past its apposite place in our seemingly ever changing world and helps individuals and groups to slow down a little and take stock.
John Bradshaw MCIOB – Director