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The Restoration of No1 was completed in 2013 and joined the house with 1A to form an expanded museum. 


Click to see a video of the restoration of 1A


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What were the major problems?


Getting planning permission – Grade 1 listed building – Iconic highly visible building in Bath therefore we had to get it right.  The museum is a significant visitor attraction which adds to the unique heritage and cultural offer of Bath as a World Heritage Site.  The Bath Preservation Trust is a consultee in the planning process and therefore wanted to set an example with its own applications.  The Local Planning Authority also expressed the expectation that the application should be extremely thorough due to the historical significance of the two listed buildings and the need to obtain change of use for No.1a from residential to museum.  The planning submissions were developed by SM-J in conjunction with the BPT to a very high standard and this we think played a large part in achieving the necessary planning consents relatively simply.



To reunite No.1 Royal Crescent museum in Bath with its neighbour No.1a which was originally the servants’ wing of the house


Key philosophy of the design was to limit as much as possible disruption to No.1 Royal Crescent and to incorporate the majority of the changes in No.1a particularly in what was historically the ‘courtyard area’ between the two buildings and which had been progressively infilled over the years.


In many areas both No.1 and 1A have been restored to their original layouts and the reintroduction of venetian windows to the ground floor of No.1a reinstates both the symmetry of the Upper Church street facade and the architectural link with buildings in the adjacent Brock Street.


With both vision and innovation the sensitive restoration and complete re-development of No.1 and 1a has doubled the amount of interpreted rooms and provided much improved access and visitor facilities in line with 21st Century audience expectations.  This required a complete overhaul of the services installations of both buildings to comply with modern day standards and the addition of an Introduction Room, a new shop, 2 new galleries (to Government Indemnity Scheme standards), new sanitary facilities, offices, and education and research rooms along with the installation of a lift to allow wheelchair access to No.1.


The main design issues were as follows:


Fitting all the accommodation in within a limited footprint and the discrepancy in floor levels between 1 and 1a.  Key structural moves enabled this to be achieved:


Obtaining permission to lower an area of the basement floor in 1a adjacent to the proposed link through to No.1 - this provided level access from the new lift in No1a to No1 at Basement level and created space for a new accessible WC.  If we had not done this an additional lift of some sort would have been required at the junction between the two buildings to deal with the floor level difference between the two buildings.


Rationalising the number of floor levels (from 16! To 8 )in No.1a to provide more useable space and to facilitate simpler vertical circulation (the lift requires only 4 stops).  The removal of some floors enabled the opening up of the space which historically had existed between the two buildings to create an atrium entrance space which exposes and makes a dramatic feature of the flying flue which links the two buildings.


Structural gymnastics enabled the installation of a new stair into the new atrium space and the construction of the external envelope of the stair and lift.  The design had to avoid putting load on the kitchen passageway vaults in the basement – so these elements were all designed to ‘bridge’ over the vaults.


The lift:

Location of the lift had to be specifically sited so that it works not only in terms of providing access where you need it to but also negotiates any historic structures/fabric as it rises through the building.  The most appropriate location within the constraints of the site was identified for achieving this and checked as much as possible (with LA approval) via trial pit investigations during the development of the planning applications.


We were not absolutely sure we could accommodate the lift until the works contract had started and demolition was fairly advanced on site and though we were prepared for the worst it actually transpired that we could use one of the existing walls of the Gentleman’s Retreat for the shaft enclosure rather than having to build a completely independent shaft.  We therefore ended up with more room than we had originally envisaged at the design stage and were able to increase the size of adjacent spaces which otherwise could have been very tight.


We were also able to source a platform lift with fully automatic lift car doors and landing doors which conveyed an integrated aesthetic and quality for the building which we felt was more appropriate than a conventional platform lift which can look cheap and like a bit of an afterthought.  This could be more easily accommodated due to the gains in terms of space we had made with the final positioning of the lift.


The Roofs:

Getting the new lead and glass roofs to work so that they were not visible from the street. A problem which was compounded by the fact that the existing lead roof had been constructed as an unventilated roof and therefore of relatively shallow construction.  As it was in a very poor condition it needed to be replaced.  The new lead roof is constructed as a ventilated roof in accordance with good practice and and therefore of deeper construction but by using heavier gauge lead and introducing more and shorter falls we were able to ensure that it did not project above the level of the parapet.


Similarly the glass roof over the main entrance space had to be configured such that no overtly modern elements can be seen from the street.  The low profile design of the glazing system used achieved this.


The new design creates a much neater roofscape than previously existed (see photos of original roofscape) and sits within and in many cases significantly below the various levels and profiles of the original roofs.


Problem with Party Wall agreement:

Originally the Contractor’s intention was to put a temporary roof over the whole of No.1A which would have enabled them to work in a number of different areas simultaneously. The construction of this along with the need to build the external walls of the new lift and stair enclosure on the boundary wall between the two properties required access to the adjoining owners courtyard.  However the neighbour was resistant to his courtyard being used and when it became clear that this could not be resolved via the Party Wall Agreement the contractor was forced to reprogramme the works sequentially. Working in areas concurrently was no longer possible and overhand working along with the hiring of a cherry picker to span from the street over the courtyard were required to complete parts of the external envelope of the new structures.  This added some 9 weeks to the construction programme of the first phase of the development and delayed the start of the second phase works to No.1 Royal Crescent.  However, this did not compromise the overall completion date for the project which eventually finished on time and under budget.


Services Installations:

Updating all the services installations to modern standards and so that the service runs were now hidden.  Numerous discussion and meetings on site with specialists to avoid any uneccessary interventions into the historic fabric and to ensure that services were hidden as much as possible.


Height of Boiler flue above roof - pushing the sub-contractor and mechanical engineer to come up with a solution that kept the flue discharge at a level so that it is not visible from the street even when we were being told it was not possible.  Multiple options were explored with the specialist sub-contractors to ensure that what we have installed is not visible from the street. The ‘impossible’ was achieved.


Switching and controls for lighting along with emergency signage, and call points etc are required but had to be ‘lost’ where they distract from the authenticity of the interpreted rooms and spaces.  A management plan was developed with the client and a fire consultant and agreed with Building Control which enabled nearly all of these to be either hidden from view (via ‘candleboxes’ for instance) or deleted.


Lessons learned

Would have been good to have been allowed to do a bit more opening up pre planning in order to eliminate some of the uncertainties but the planners were reluctant to allow this in advance of a Planning and Listed Building Consent for reasons which are understandable.


There were two separate contracts for No1 and 1A refelecting the fact that we had a different client for each.  For 1a our client was insistent that there was no contingency built into the contract sum being of the opinion that if it is there it gets spent.  This required some very robust cost planning and as it worked out it did not become an issue.  However it is not ideal to work on projects of this nature with so many uncertanties without sum form of contingency.


Construction would have been easier particularly from a services point of view if the project had been undertaken as just 1 building contract it would also have been able to be built even quicker.

Good working relationships between client, consultants and contractors is key to the success of a project.


No.1 ROYAL CRESENT reOPENs on FRIDAY 21 JUNE with theatrical ceremony

10.00 – 11.00AM


The renovation project at Bath’s iconic Georgian townhouse museum at No.1 Royal Crescent is completed and the house will reopen to the public at 11.00am on Friday 21 June, after an Opening Ceremony which commences at 10.00am. The project included the purchase and restoration of the original servants’ wing at No.1A and its reconnection to the main house.


Expect some theatrics as the new-style museum opens to reveal more than double the original amount of dressed rooms, plus original corridors, coalholes, servants’ stairs and scullery. Food writer and broadcaster Mary Berry will officially open the museum, in front of an assembly of people who have contributed to the restoration project. VIP guests will include Tom Wills-Sandford and his daughter Caroline Sandford-Anderson, who are direct descendants of the original resident of the house (retired Irish MP Mr Henry Sandford); Bath philanthropist and businessman Andrew Brownsword who has so generously bought and paid for the restoration of No.1A; and Simon Timms, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West Committee which provided a significant grant of £1.4million towards the £5million project.


Also present as a guest of honour will be The Hon Elizabeth Cayzer, niece of Bernard Cayzer who acquired No.1 and gave it to the Trust in 1968, providing funds for its restoration by the Trust. No.1A, the original domestic wing, was ‘separated’ from the main house at this time. She has continued her uncle’s legacy with very generous donations having been made from her charitable trust.


The Rt Hon Don Foster MP will attend the ceremony, alongside the new Mayor of Bath and new Chairman of B&NES Council, plus fellow dignitaries and supporters. Costumed actors will participate, the Bath City Waits will perform C18th music and children from nearby St Andrew’s Primary School, who enjoy a special education partnership with the museum, will line the railings dressed as servants and gentry. Media interest in filming the outdoor ceremony has been high.


Edward Bayntun-Coward, Chairman of the Trustees of Bath Preservation Trust, says:

“Residents and visitors to Bath have witnessed an eight month period of closure and some intense renovation works taking place to both buildings, but reopening to the public is actually the culmination of a six-year project of vision and determination. We are very proud of how the original house has been authentically restored to reflect exactly how it would have been during its first 20 years of occupancy - 1776–1796 - based on the exciting discovery of original descriptions and evidence.”


Simon Timms, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West Committee, says:


“The Royal Crescent is one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom and we at the Heritage Lottery Fund are delighted see it fully restored and open to the public once again. Through reuniting the buildings at No.1 and No.1A the Royal Crescent, and creating new learning and visitor spaces, people from near and far can now fully explore and appreciate all aspects of the social history of the house, reflecting the wider history of Bath.”


Visitors will be able to see all for themselves when the doors open at 11.00am. The opening exhibition in the Andrew Brownsword Gallery (admission is included in the entry price) will reveal the history of No.1 since its construction and details of some of its more prominent residents.