Armitage Construction on their work preserving Cheshire’s heritage
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 July 2016
Armitage Construction, for years based in Stockport, is celebrating its 142nd anniversary. They specialise in preserving our historic buildings, writes Helen Nagaitis
Quarry Bank, Little Moreton Hall, Jodrell Bank, Dunham Massey, and Tatton Park are just some of the Cheshire projects undertaken by Armitage Construction, the oldest remaining family-run construction company in the north-west. Their work at Burton Manor Glasshouses in Neston, earned them an English Heritage Angel Award.
Armitage Construction, for many years based in Bredbury, Stockport, this year celebrates its 142nd anniversary. Chief Executive Daniel Armitage, a fifth generation member of the family said: ‘Armitage Construction was founded in 1874 by Joseph Armitage, a carpenter, who knew his trade back-to-front and demanded the same level of proficiency from those who worked for him. The highest level of specialism on both heritage projects and more recent builds remains at the core of our values and we enjoyed using our vast range of skills on these specialist projects.
‘Our National Trust project at Quarry Bank involves the restoration of the derelict historic 19th century glasshouse and back sheds in the Upper Garden.’
Built in the 1830s, the glasshouse is an early example of an iron-framed hothouse. The use of cast iron strengthened its structure and enabled an innovative, curved domed roof to be created, making Quarry Bank’s curvilinear style very special. The high roof allowed for the cultivation of palms and other large exotic specimens, brought into the country by Victorian plant hunters.
‘We are restoring the glasshouse, which was last used in 1936 and the back sheds to their original footprint, size and symmetry. New cast-iron components will be individually re-cast using moulds made from the surviving parts, with hand-made glass used to ensure an authentic restoration,‘ added Daniel.
The work includes the creation of a garden shop within one of the restored back sheds, the reinstatement of the wall to the walled garden, constructing a garden café adjacent and a purpose-built gardener’s facility including workshop, machine storage and messing facilities.
However, the team made an exciting discovery: children’s leather shoes, glass bottles and pottery were found when they uncovered three rubbish pits, which was the old method used to dispose of waste other than by burning. On discovering this ‘buried treasure’ they called in the National Trust archaeologists who were working alongside them to explore further.
Andrea Armitage, Director of Armitage Construction, said: ‘Experts believe this shows the Quarry Bank gardener moonlighted as a cobbler to supplement his income, proving that multi-tasking was definitely of benefit in the 19th century!’
She added: ‘Due to the company’s continued growth, we have just relocated our head office from Bredbury to Ancoats, where we have converted a former electricity sub-station and two terraced houses into our new headquarters. This is in the heart of the world’s first industrial suburb.’
Daniel added: ‘By using a fusion of modern techniques and traditional practices to preserve the building’s best-loved features, we ensured our new HQ remains sympathetic to its original use and blends into the surroundings.’
Since 2007 when Andrea and Daniel bought out the family business, they have been involved in a wide range of Cheshire projects, not only in specialist, heritage and restoration but also in healthcare, commercial, residential and education sectors.
‘Daniel was born in Gee Cross, Hyde, and I was born in Mellor, so we really feel a part of the county,’ said Andrea.