november 2018

Overcoming conservation challenges in Manchester Street

Manchester Street, in London’s Marylebone district, close to The Wallace Collection and not far from Madame Tussauds, contains a number of impressive buildings. One of these – a Grade II listed residence – has been refurbished and restored by ME Construction.

Manchester Street, in London’s Marylebone district, close to The Wallace Collection and not far from Madame Tussauds, contains a number of impressive buildings. One of these – a Grade II listed residence – has been refurbished and restored by ME Construction.

The work involved converting five flats on basement, ground and three upper floors into just two flats and involved a great deal of internal structural strengthening work, extensive lime plastering, fibrous plaster and the creation a roof terrace for the upper flat. Working with the architects Garnett and Partners, ME Construction carried out the work for The Portman Estate.

Tony Sones, ME Construction’s project manager on this contract, explained that, when dealing with historic buildings such as this one, the challenges are enormous.

“This property has some impressive load bearing timber beams and one of them, in particular, was noticeably bowed,” said Tony. “We needed to retain this beam but it required strengthening. So we hollowed it out, put reinforcing bars inside it and filled the gaps with resin. In its current state it should be good for many hundreds of years to come.

“We retained – and strengthened - all of the original timbers in the property, retaining all of the original structure,” he continued.

“Although we’re highly experienced in refurbishment and conservation projects, this project in Manchester Street provided us with some interesting challenges,” said Tony Sones. “The work involved some initial demolition, followed by installing new drainage and a reinforced concrete slab in the basement. In addition, after 200 years of use, floors tend to dip so, among other things, we’ve now levelled the building’s floors.

“The project called for specialist conservation work - including using original materials as much as possible. We also used traditional building skills – in carrying out chestnut lath & lime plastering, for example. Like all of these specialist conservation jobs that we carry out, this one has some extremely interesting challenges – which were exciting to overcome,” he said.

Currently owning over 500 properties and principally located within 110 acres of land in Marylebone, The Portman Estate has been a major landlord in this area since the 16th century. The Estate includes Portman Square, Manchester Square along with the residential squares of Bryanston and Montagu, and its properties encompass Oxford Street from Marble Arch to Orchard Street; from the Edgware Road in the west to beyond Baker Street in the east, and stretch north almost to Crawford Street.

The Portman Estate includes key places of architectural and historical interest along with a cosmopolitan blend of shops, including Portman Village, restaurants, wine-bars, hotels and garden squares - a mix of leisure opportunities for visitors, residents and the working community in the heart of London's West End.