27th May 2021

Cornices and Cladding

The most prominent aspect of reinstatement to C Station’s exterior is the high-level cornice to the Transmission Block, which played an essential part in the composition of C Stations facades before being destroyed by the 1944 fire. Reference to the historic photographs and drawings held in the BT Archive, and comparison with the mouldings of the smaller cornice surviving on the original Stair Tower, allowed us to determine the form of the original with reasonable confidence. Although small in the overall composition of C Station, the cantilever of the cornice is over 1200mm, requiring careful structural consideration.

Recreated by BMC GRC in glass-reinforced concrete, the units are bolted to the repaired walls, and at the ends of the building, wrap around and conceal ring beams designed by Price and Myers to stabilise the upper parts of the historic masonry to compensate for the absence of the original hipped roof or an internal floorplate. The individual units are completed with a timber and lead-clad weathering.

The other major reinstatement to be completed at this stage are the huge windows at the north and south elevation of the Transmission Block, which had had to wait for the top level scaffold to be adapted so Pacegrade could install them. These windows were originally held outfeeds from the transmitter coil to the aerial array, and now provide fantastic views from the school out over Houlton – and vice-versa.

Internally the decorative cornices and string courses in the Admin Wing repaired and, where removed to install the external wall insulation, re-run to match.

Within the Transmission block the gradual removal of scaffolding shows the promise of the pair of  new staircases, which are each in two parts to best work with the historic building. The lower level rises up the old external wall, in the new stair towers, before opening through the wall into the ends of the former Coil Room, where they rise full height to the 6th Form Centre on the top floor. The bottom part is relatively enclosed, with a central rooflight, whereas the top portion has huge windows looking out over the school or Houlton.

After months of waiting, due to covid-related and global shortages of the correct grade of aluminium, the anodised rainscreen cladding made by Ash and Lacy for the Sports Hall finally arrived on site. The panels have a finely punched surface to catch the light, night and day, and are installed with a slightly undulating wall surface to work with the bays of the historic building and reduce the scale of the Sports Hall. Very pleased with the slight variation in colour and tone that the anodising process produces, and how this enriches the elevations in Rugby’s ever-changing light.