Repurposing with secondary glazing: an open and shut case

Latest News Tue, Jan 5, 2021 2:14 PM

Working in conjunction with Messenger Construction and architects Rodney Melville and Partners, on a National Trust owned Grade I Listed former stable; Selectaglaze installed 25 thermal secondary glazed units to create warmer and acoustically efficient offices spaces, in an approach sensitive to the stable’s origin and context.

The Grade I Listed Belton House stable block in Grantham, Lincolnshire was built in 1685 and is lauded for its artistic and historical value. It is one of just 10 significant surviving 17th century stables in England, famous for the number original features intact. The stables were built by William Stanton and form part of the Belton Estates, home of the Brownlow and Cust families for three hundred years; a dynasty of renowned lawyers.

Alterations were made to the building between 1811 and 1820 for the 1st Earl of Brownlow by Jeffry Wyatt. Further upgrades were made in the 1870s when the St Pancras Iron Work Co. installed the finest loose boxes for the third Earl to house his racehorses. St Pancras Iron Work Co. came with good recommendation as they installed stables for the Queen and Prince of Wales at the time. The full estate was offered to the Government for war services and served as a base for the Machine Gun Corps during WW1, and also home to the RAF Regiment during the Second World War.

Belton House Stable continued to serve the Brownlow horses with the groomers living on the upper floors until the 1970s, when the stable was partially converted into the ‘Museum of the Horse’. It is one of the last properties to be bequeathed to the National Trust in 1984 when the Brownlows were faced with impending financial ruin. The estate was used for filming in the BBC 1995 TV version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The National Trust began a huge project in 2018 to conserve and rejuvenate the stables to ensure a sustainable future for the building. The plan was to undertake a careful restoration to include a new café with increased capacity, a function space and much-needed office and meeting rooms on the upper floors for the staff at Belton. The work involved conserving lime plaster, repairing the 19th century windows and restoring historic paint schemes, employing craftspeople skilled in traditional building techniques.

As part of the refit, Selectaglaze was approached by Rodney Melville and Partners to provide an upgrade solution for the original windows, which despite being retained were thermally inefficient. Selectaglaze Series 10 horizontal sliders were specified for 24 of the original leaded windows in the offices, and meeting rooms. The slender profile of the Series 10 makes it suitable for heritage properties. Three of the units were glazed with satinovo glass in the toilets. Custom made timber grounds were fastened to all the openings which were splayed or out of shape. As a result of the installation, thermal efficiency has improved considerably, with the added benefit of increased acoustic insulation.


A rather unique and original feature in one of the offices was a drop-down door. Traditionally, these doors were opened to allow for hay or other agricultural produce to be hoisted up for storage by the groomers.When fully open, the door is supported by a stone jettied platform on the façade of thebuilding. The architect was eager to keep the door as a way of preserving the traditional agricultural personality. The clients wanted to enable the movement of the door, so some sort of access was required for cleaning. As the office had no windows, the openingof the door alsoallowed for natural light and ventilationto flood the space.The ideal solution was achieved by treating the opening with a Series 20 vertical sliding secondary glazing unit, whereby thetop sash could be brought down to permit ventilation.The Series 20 glazed with 6mm toughened glass also created an active barrier to prevent people from walking on the door once opened.

‘We are delighted with the way the Stables restoration at Belton House has been completed. Transforming an almost derelict listed building into fabulous working offices has been an incredible project and working in collaboration with the Architects and Curators on the project Selectaglaze have played their part in delivering a stunning historic but comfortable working environment.” Ian Cooper, Belton House

Founded in 1966 and Royal Warrant Holder since 2004, Selectaglaze has a wealth of experience working on all building types from Listed libraries to new build offices with each unit bespoke to the individual needs of the client.

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