We were recently asked to undertake a really special project which involved the removal of six historic stained glass windows from an old convent in Southend-On-Sea.
The chapel here is approximately 150 years old and has recently been operating as a residential nursing home. However, due to lack of funding this has sadly had to close down and the site is now being sold on to property developers.
As the chapel will be included in the demolition of the convent, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to save the original stained glass windows. They needed to be very carefully removed and securely packaged, so that they could be stored and possibly reused in the future.
The windows were situated at a very high level, so we needed to carefully plan our removal process. This meant looking at how we could access the windows from both inside and outside of the building.
Due to the location of the windows and the health and safety risks, this project required the help of three members of our team. We were unable to determine how long the removal process would take, but we estimated around three days.
The internal works required the hire of a high level platform and we used ladders externally. This allowed us to have both sides of the building manned during the removal process.
The removal of most of the windows was reasonably straight forward, as the original lime render remained soft. This allowed us to carefully chisel around the edge of the windows without causing any damage. However, some of the windows had war bomb damage and a mixture of sand and cement had been used to reinstate them. This made the process much more challenging because the removal needed to be slower and more delicate. It was unavoidable to cause damage in some areas; however our expertise kept this to a minimum.
Once the windows were removed we then had to secure the openings with plywood sheeting. The stained glass windows were then carefully exported using crates to keep them protected during storage.
The site was left extremely tidy and the feedback we received was highly commendable. – The client even commented that “they didn’t even realise we had been!”