Last month we had what has over the years become the annual THI ‘reunion’ which for the first time was attended by ALL FOUR of our PAST Historic Environment Interns: Chris, Dan, Hannah and Richard.
That’s right: our internship programme finished in October when Richard started his new job as a Conservation Officer (well, Planning Officer (Conservation) to be precise) at Wigan Council, a pier-less (geddit?) place to work and home to its own THI at Wallgate.
The internships are for me was one of the best thing the THI has done and I am so pleased with what our interns have each gone on to achieve.
It was Richard who wrote a blog post about 46 Eccleston Street aka Girls On Top salon not long after works started and I am now pleased to report the repair and restoration works are now fully complete!
On the left is 46 Eccleston Street as it was in the 1920s and on the right as it appears today following repair and restoration.
On the left is the building in 2017 and on the right in 2019 (OK, I got the angles wrong on both ‘after’ photos!)
Taking the Pain Out of Paint
Richard’s blog post covers much about the building’s history and many of the works that have been carried out. It concluded with a cliff-hanger of what to do with bricks that had soaked up paint that was proving very tricky to remove without damaging the bricks themselves.
The solution (literally) was for a specialist from Bebbington’s to tint the colour of the brickwork using their own proprietary brick tinting mixture and the skills of practitioners who do this type of work day in and day out.
This photo was taken while the brick tinting was underway. On the section of wall around the ladder the tint has been applied, but where the ladder touches the wall and to the left of the windows you can see the blotchy, speckled, unevenly coloured brick that was ready to be tinted.
In less than a day the bricks had turned from being speckled white to a weathered buff and red. This is the first time I have ever seen brick tinting in practice and only found out about it even existing last year. The sandstone cills and lintels similarly had white paint stuck fast to them so the only practical option was to strip them as far back as possible without damage and then paint them in breathable mineral paint.
As with a lot of our THI building projects, it is the joiner’s craft and art that steals the show, as the shopfronts and windows they produce often have the biggest visual impact of all. In this case the sashes, shopfront and signage were all made by Manorside Joinery, a Knowsley firm based at Kirkby Industrial Estate. Manorside have done a wonderful job replicating the shopfront as it was around 1910 and as drawn by Dabinett Surveyors.
The star of the show – the shopfront, complete with working awning.
While we have copied the historical design, slight adjustments were made like installing a door wide enough for people with mobility impairments and setting the door slightly off-centre to suit the operation of the business inside. The gates in the doorway have been used as an alternative to having a shutter inside or outside of the shop and are discrete. The much taller shop windows really open up the premises and the extra light they allow in will be a big plus on this north-facing side of Eccleston Street.
The lighter, brighter interior as shown in a photo by Aura Conservation
The sign crowning the top of the shopfront is not something that would usually get approval from our eagle-eyed planning services team, but seeing as it was part of a historically accurate restoration to this building there is good reason to permit a sign of this type.
Girls On Top have used the works going on as an opportunity to update the interior of the shop, including the waiting area and lighting, so the makeover continues from the outside to the inside.
From the inside looking out – bright and airy (I’ve pinched this photo from Aura’s excellent blog)
A New Old Fashioned Way
There are more before, during and after photos of 46 Eccleston Street on the THI Flickr pages.
I suppose that after a few decades of being modernised, 46 Eccleston Street has been reunited with its old self via the restoration, while at the same time a longstanding Prescot business has gained a new look.
The contradictions of heritage-led regeneration continue!