Restoring Gunnersbury Park to its former beauty @lime_products

Located in West London, Gunnersbury Park is home to a magnificent 19th century mansion, constructed using bricks and stucco to create an elegant and decorative finish.

Failing façades

Originally home to the famed Rothschild family, the Grade II, listed building was beginning to look tired and unkempt. Lack of maintenance, vandalism and Britain’s freeze-thaw climate had, over time, put a lot of pressure on the exterior of the building, causing it to lose its original, aesthetic elegance.

Attempts were made to repair the façades using Portland cement over the 20th century. These proved to be only short-term solutions for the decaying mansion. It was in urgent need of a new, longer-term solution to restore its beautiful, traditional appearance by the time Lime Green became involved in November 2015.

The perfect Prompt

In 2014, major renovations of Gunnersbury Park began.

To successfully fix the failing façades, the building’s old render was analysed down to its microscopic structure using X-ray diffraction. That process uncovered that Gunnersbury Park was originally built using Roman cement.

Parker’s Roman cement was discovered in the late 18th century in England and allowed craftsmen to build out, thick layers of stucco, moulded into ornate shapes. Roman cement was fashionable during the 18th century due to its high-quality appearance.

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in Roman and natural cements due mainly to the need for repair of façades finished in this material in the 19th century.

Working closely with the architect, Stafford Holmes, The Lime Centre and AVV Solutions, Lime Green worked meticulously to create a render with an almost identical match – both physically and chemically – to the original, Roman cement render.

“Due to our successful working relationship with Lime Green on previous projects, we were keen to work with them on Gunnersbury Park,” says Ray Wills, chief executive officer at AVV Solutions.

With experience in restoring important historic buildings, Lime Green is dedicated to ensuring that every build withstands the test of time and Gunnersbury Park was an ideal candidate.

“We knew Lime Green could fulfil the requirement to maintain as close a match as possible to the original materials and the existing areas that did not require restoring,” says Ray Wills.

The exacting, matching process was achieved by obtaining model specifications from various points of the building and analysing different mortar samples. Several cement samples were then produced and trialled on-site to determine the best recipe for the mix.

Samples were then manufactured and tested for the architect’s approval before render trials were carried out.

The final product, Lime Green’s Roman Stucco, is made using Prompt, a mix of graded sands, a small amount of lime and natural additives, including set retarders. The mixture has low shrinkage and high breathability with a beautiful, natural colour which assumes a creamy texture and sits comfortably under trowel.

Prompt, notorious for its fast setting is extremely difficult to mix accurately in large volumes. On-site production would not have been practical in the tight timeframe. In order to guarantee the consistency of the blend, Lime Green manufactured the mix to its precise recipe (+/- 1g per tonne) in its Much Wenlock factory.

All the Roman Stucco is sampled and tested before it goes to site.

Elegant, charming and beautifully crafted

Gunnersbury Park has now been restored to its original splendour.

After opening as a museum in 1929, the mansion now showcases local history,  archaeology, costume and fine art. Elegant, charming and beautifully crafted, this mansion come museum is the perfect place to watch the seasons change and to discover the fascinating history of the great building.

“It’s so wonderful to see Gunnersbury Park restored to its full glory,” says Simon Ayres, managing director and co-founder of Lime Green. “It should stay looking this good for as many, if not more, years as the original mix which stood strong since the 1830s.

“The task presented numerous challenges but creating innovative, practical and most importantly, sustainable solutions is at the heart what we do.”

Repairing the original, like-for-like, is not only good conservation practice but it also ensures compatibility between the old and new. The work has safeguarded the sustainability for the future of this important, historical building and has revived this majestic, West London attraction.

For more information on the restoration of beautiful buildings, visit: https://www.lime-green.co.uk/.

 

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