The impressive refurbishment and modernisation project at Grade II listed Hastings Central Library was secured under the Sussex Cluster Framework on behalf of long-term client East Sussex County Council. Located in The Brassey, a conservation area of Hastings dating back to 1880, this complex and logistically challenging refurbishment contract spanned across the 5 floor building and included complete modernisation of the library including numerous restoration and sympathetic improvements.
Working with heritage specialists and the local Conservation Officer, key features were retained and protected including external stone and façade works. The first floor ornate moulded ceilings were reinstated to match the original design and historic banisters fully protected. In a similar vein, new installations such as luminaire fittings were selected sympathetic to the aesthetic design of the building and lime-based materials employed to match the original lime plaster.
Complete mechanical, electrical and roof renewal works formed a major element of the project including new gas fired boilers, low surface temperature radiators, insulation, ventilation, cooling systems and the replacement of timber skylights with high efficiency aluminium opening windows. The existing sand cement rendering to all parapet walls was removed and replaced with lime render or mortar. All windows were tested for lead paint of which a high content was discovered. Specialists were essentially employed to professionally strip out and safely remove the lead using chemical dipping.
With the works programme underway, significant hidden erosion was discovered on the two main corbel stones supporting the front building elevation. The stones required urgent replacement before other works could safely commence. A somewhat challenging task, a specially designed 9 tonne steel support scaffold was erected to support the front building elevation while these works took place. The stonework to the front tracery window and supporting steel beam were all carefully replaced; this process necessitated removal of the historic mosaic tile floor which was sympathetically reinstated to match the original design once the stonework had been replaced.
The removal of external paint to the rear elevation revealed the existing render in a very poor condition. This was removed and replaced with lime render. Repairs to the front elevation stoneworks were carried out sympathetically using a proprietary repair mortar. All existing stonework was then treated and micro-porous paint used to further protect the structure.
The interior of the library was completely refurbished with new furniture, computers, Wi-Fi and improved toilet and disabled facilities installed; with remodelling and improved space utilisation, the building now homes a Children’s Library and East Sussex County Council Parking Services Department alongside the main library facilities. The completed refurbishment is providing the local community with a far more modern, energy efficient and spacious library and public space facility and has been entered for numerous heritage awards.
Hastings, East Sussex
Sussex Cluster Framework
East Sussex County Council
Faithful & Gould
Hemsley Orrell Partnership