Marchbank School – a heritage renovation project

Posted July 2019

To coincide with the start of the school holidays we have resumed work on our design-led heritage restoration project at Marchbank School in Darlington. The school was designed by renowned architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905) whose Victorian Gothic buildings include the Natural History Museum and Manchester Town Hall. Marchbank is a great example of what could be called his signature style, being highly detailed and using terracotta bricks and tiles, his work on many university British buildings giving rise to the expression “red-brick university”. It is a great honour to be trusted to refresh the facade of this historically important building.

So far, we have rebuilt one of the original 2m high chimneys and used traditional masonry methods incorporating heritage lime mortar and handmade terracotta ridge tiles to repair several areas of the roof.

We have also been tasked with repairing – and in the end, recreating – a large, very detailed stained glass window, using traditional glasswork skills and a great deal of time and attention to detail, but we are very pleased with the result.

Following a significant period of neglect and incorrect finishing to past repair works, the original balconies were showing significant signs of damage. Accordingly, we are recreating the balconies almost from scratch using bespoke bricks and tiles accurate to the original specifications, to ensure that the building is finished to a standard Mr Waterhouse himself would be proud of.

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