Case Studies

Not Just Run of the Mill – Historic Chimney Restoration Works at Tulketh Mill

 

Client: Tulketh Mill, Preston, United Kingdom
Service Provider: CityGroup Facilities Management
Value: £150k
Date: April 2023

Background

Tulketh Mill, a Grade II Listed Industrial Cotton Mill located in Preston, Lancashire, has been an iconic landmark in the region for over a century. The mill complex, consisting of several interconnected buildings, played a significant role in the local textile industry during the 19th and 20th centuries. The mill’s chimney, a vital part of its heritage, had shown signs of deterioration over time, posing potential safety risks to the surrounding area. CityGroup Facilities Management was entrusted with the responsibility of restoring the chimney to its former glory while ensuring the preservation of its historical significance.

Project Scope

The project’s primary goal was to restore and preserve the chimney’s structural integrity, ensuring it met safety standards without compromising its historical aesthetics. Repairs are essential for the chimney’s stability, longevity, and public health and safety. The scope of work included:

Structural Assessment

Conducting a comprehensive structural assessment of the chimney to identify areas of decay, damage, and potential weaknesses.

Restoration Planning

Developing a detailed restoration plan that balances historical preservation and structural stability.

Health & Safety

During restoration, safety measures are implemented to protect workers, surrounding areas, and historical assets.

Material Selection:

Identifying suitable materials matching the original construction, including fabricating and replacing the deteriorating tension bands.

 

Brickwork Restoration

Repairing and replacing damaged bricks, repointing mortar joints, and reinforcing weak sections to restore the chimney’s structural integrity.

Historical Accuracy

Ensuring that the restoration efforts closely resembled the original construction, maintaining the chimney’s historical appearance.

Weather Resistance

Applying protective coatings to enhance the chimney’s resistance to weather-related deterioration.

Final Inspection

Conduct a thorough inspection to ensure the chimney meets the safety requirements identified within the condition report.

 

Challenges:

 

Several challenges were encountered during the restoration process:

Historical Preservation

Balancing the need for historical accuracy with modern safety standards required meticulous planning and execution.

Access

Providing the restoration team safe and efficient access to the chimney’s various heights.

Materials Sourcing

Sourcing materials that matched the appearance of the original construction while meeting contemporary safety requirements.

Weather Constraints

Adverse weather conditions occasionally impacted the restoration timeline.

 

Execution:

 

CityGroup Facilities Management tackled the project with a multidisciplinary team consisting of structural engineers, steeple jacks, historic preservation specialists, and health and safety experts. Steeplejack ladders were erected to the full height of one elevation, and a single-deck modular platform was installed around the total circumference of the chimney, approximately 2 meters from the top. Following the removal of the existing retaining bands, 120 new mild steel sections with double lug and bolt securing arrangements were specially manufactured and installed, utilising 240 bolts. Each retaining band was carefully checked and secured into place, ensuring the tension was accurately adjusted. Two coats of specialist black bitumen paint were also applied, and the existing lightning conductor bands were bonded to each new retaining band to ensure continuity and prevent flashover in the event of a lightning strike. In conjunction with the retaining bands, the mortar joints to the top twenty metres were cut back to a depth of 20mm, cleaned out of remaining debris, and re-pointed using an ‘Old English’ lime mortar finish with a flush joint.

The platform was rigged on a specialised tension steel band and fully boarded with double handrails and toe boards on the working deck.

Motorised cradles provide a mobile platform for all elevations below the modular deck.

 

The project proceeded in the following phases:

Assessment and Planning

A thorough assessment was conducted to develop a detailed restoration plan considering structural requirements and historical authenticity.

Health and Safety

A crows nest scaffolding and comprehensive safety equipment were installed to ensure the safety of workers and the surrounding area.

Restoration Work

Damaged bricks were meticulously replaced, mortar joints were repointed, new tension bands fabricated and installed, and weak areas were reinforced to restore the chimney’s stability.

Historical Accuracy

Skilled craftsmen replicated the original brickwork patterns and details, staying true to the mill’s historical design.

Weather Resistance

Protective coatings were applied to the restored chimney to enhance its durability against weather-related wear.

Final Inspection

A comprehensive inspection was conducted to verify that the chimney met the safety standards identified within the condition report.

 

Results

CityGroup Facilities Management successfully restored the chimney at Tulketh Mill, preserving its historical significance while ensuring its safety and structural integrity. The restored chimney enhances the mill complex’s visual appeal and contributes to the local historical landscape. The project was successfully completed on schedule and within budget. Notably, the collaborative efforts of the project and restoration team were recognised for their expertise and dedication.

The restoration of the chimney at Tulketh Mill stands as a testament to CityGroup Facilities Management’s commitment to the historical preservation of our home city of Preston. The successful completion of this restoration project has rejuvenated a crucial piece of the region’s history, ensuring that future generations of the Preston community can continue to appreciate the legacy of Tulketh Mill.

Jen Cole, City Group’s Co-Founder, said, “We were delighted to have been chosen to work on such a prestigious project in our home city of Preston. Everyone in Preston knows Tulketh Mill. It has been a part of the local landscape for over 100 years. We are all thrilled to have been awarded the contract. It’s not often such significant projects are awarded for historic structures with consideration to building preservation alongside strict health and safety management, and we are proud of now being a part of the history of Tulketh Mill”.