The grand Victorian House known as Mansion House in St Helens, Lancashire, is one of the finest residential buildings in the area.
Built in 1850 by a wealthy solicitor, the Grade-II-listed building is today owned by the charity Age UK Mid Mersey, functioning as its headquarters and also generates revenue to support the charity’s work in the region by serving as a wedding and functions venue as well as offering a café and gift shop.
The building has recently undergone a £3 million refurbishment to reverse the effects of poor maintenance and vandalism over the years and to return the building and its grounds to its original Victorian splendour.
A major part of this restoration was to re-instate the grand timber-built orangery that originally adjoined the house, but which had been replaced by a metal framed modern glass house which lacked the aesthetic appeal of the original.
Reconstructing the Orangery posed a particular challenge as there was a lack of photographs of the Victorian original, so the team at the architect visited a number of other grand buildings around the North West constructed in the same era to guide the design.
The result is a structure with a truly authentic aesthetic, but built to modern construction standards, and the 460 sq m of glass used played a key role.
For the roof, units made up of an outer layer of Pilkington Activ SunShade™ Neutral solar control, self-cleaning glass and an inner pane of 8.8mm Pilkington Optilam™ Therm S3, consisting of two sheets of glass laminated together with an advanced interlayer for superior strength and impact resistance. The inner pane also featured a low-e coating to help reduce the rate at which heat is radiated from the building.
For the vertical glazing, 6.4mm-thick Pilkington Suncool Optilam™ toughened glass was used, featuring high-clarity Pilkington Optilam™ Clear glass to maximise the views of the surrounding garden from inside the orangery.
Phil Savage, commercial contracts sales manager at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, said: “The client wanted to recreate the appearance of a traditional Victorian glass house, but benefit from the advantages of a modern building, and the glass we supplied has played a big part in this.
“For the roof, the units we supplied deliver an excellent combination of thermal insulation and solar control, reducing the need for artificial heating in winter and air conditioning in summer. This will ensure the space is usable and inexpensive to run all year round.
“The roof glass is also self-cleaning, which will help keep it looking close to pristine without the need for constant cleaning.”
Mark Lunney, chief executive at Age UK Mid Mersey said: “The Mansion House is an important revenue generator for us, and the stunning new orangery allows us to offer superb facilities to deliver much needed support to our older clients. As a social enterprise, all surplus income generated, is reinvested into ensuring people can love later life. Customers, both visitors stopping for a visit to the Bistro café, or those looking to hire out the space for weddings and other functions, help us achieve this. It’s something truly unique in the region.
“The project has been finished to an extremely high standard and the high-performance Pilkington glass makes an appreciable difference in terms of maintaining a comfortable climate inside the space, whatever the weather is doing. Something that is a huge help when running a business like ours.”