Marley Eternit’s fibre cement profiled sheeting has been used as part of an £10 million technically challenging project to restore and convert the UK’s last remaining open-pan salt works into a visitor centre and museum.
The Lion Salt Works project in Northwich has involved four years of delicate restoration of five fragile 19th century pan and stove houses, as well as the creation of an educational centre inside the Red Lion Inn, the onsite pub which gave the salt works its name. The architectural challenge was to develop the site into a unique visitor experience but at the same time keep the buildings frozen in time as a slice of Cheshire’s proud salt mining industrial heritage.
To secure the structural condition, the walls of the building were dismantled and entirely rebuilt using the original brickwork, wood frame and panelling. Due to its historical significance, materials used to restore the building had to replace like with like, whilst protecting the existing structure. Architects Donald Insall Associates (DIA) involved Marley Eternit early in the design stages to assess the feasibility of using fibre cement profiled sheeting for the roofing and cladding of all the buildings. Marley Eternit’s Profile 3 and Profile 6 sheeting in natural grey have been used throughout the site.
Simon Malam from DIA explains: "Lion Salt Works is a Scheduled Ancient Monument because it is the last open-pan salt works in the UK and one of only three remaining in the world. Therefore this was a very delicate restoration which called for great expertise, precision and care. The original buildings were constructed back in 1894 and we had to work with the existing wooden rafters, which were bowing by as much as six inches in the middle. Marley Eternit visited the site with us at the early design stages to advise how the profiled sheeting could be carefully selected and cut to be used on the existing structure but still be weather tight."
DIA is working with main contractor Wates Construction and restoration contractors William Anelay. Marley Eternit has continued to provide technical support throughout the project, alongside specialist heritage roofing contractor RS Miller Group.
Richard Andrews, Project Delivery Manager from Cheshire West and Chester Council – Capital Delivery Team, comments: "The skill of a great restoration project is when someone asks you when are you going to replace the roofing without realising that’s exactly what has already been done, and that is the outstanding factor in my opinion on the selection of Marley Eternit’s fibre cement profiled sheeting. The aesthetics of the product completes the restoration of the Lion Salt Works whilst providing an extremely flexible and durable product to protect the historical core the buildings"
The museum is currently trialling its visitor experience with a series of preview days for invited groups and its official opening date will be announced very shortly. Even before it has opened to the public, the project has been highly commended in the conservation category at the recent Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors' North West awards.
Jonathan Shum, business development manager at Marley Eternit, comments: "This is probably the most delicate project we have ever been involved with but it has been very rewarding to see the whole journey from design stages through to the finished and beautifully restored museum. This is a large and complex project with over 2,000m2 of profile sheeting used on the roofs alone and it was vital we were brought in so early on in the project to make sure the profile sheeting could meet the technical challenges. The profiled sheeting used for both roofs and cladding gives rustic charm, complementing the site’s industrial heritage, yet at the same time providing the necessary strength and protection for this important historical building."
Marley Eternit is the only UK manufacturer of fibre cement profiled sheeting, a 100% recyclable material which will not rust, rot or corrode. Profile 6 is a high strength fibre cement corrugated roof sheet with polypropylene reinforced strips inserted along precisely engineered locations that run along the length of the sheet. This provides maximum impact strength without affecting the durability of the product. Designed for roof pitches of 5 degrees and above and for vertical cladding, Profile 6 is available in ten different colours as well as natural grey, along with a comprehensive range of accessories. Profile 3 has the same benefits but is suited to smaller structures in the agricultural, industrial and domestic sectors such as housing, garages, general purpose sheds and smaller buildings.
Marley Eternit’s range of fibre cement profile sheeting also boasts excellent sustainability credentials including a ‘Very Good’ BES 6001 responsible sourcing accreditation and the ability to achieve an A+ rating in the BRE Green Guide.
Donald Insall Associates (DIA)