Summary = Restoration, refurbishment and a new build basement level extension

Value = Approximately £1,100,000

Location = Stoke Newington

Challenge = Limited access and limited space for storing materials

Solution =The £1.1 million project which started in February 2019 involved a twelve month programme to restore, refurbish and build a new build basement level extension to Newington Green Meeting House in north London.

Built in 1708 the Grade II listed Newington Green Unitarian Church is one of England's oldest Unitarian churches. It has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years and is known as the “Birthplace of Feminism” due to its connections to activist and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. The Dissenters, a group that campaigned for religious freedom, social reform and the abolition of slavery, also used the Meeting House. A grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund gave the Meeting House the opportunity to future-proof and preserve its iconic heritage legacy. The purpose of the project was to provide a new visitor centre to enable local schoolchildren, researchers and community groups to make the most of the building's rich heritage.

While works took place the entrance into church was temporarily through the back of the building and the front of the church was restricted to site access only by using ply hoarding and pedestrian barriers. Internally the work areas were sheeted up and alternative routes made to channel visitors and staff to the site office and segregate works from other areas. There was a separate compound for storing materials and a site office was located within the limited space available.

Basement Level Extension

Bakers restored the Schoolroom and constructed a basement level extension to accommodate facilities including a meeting room, three w/c, a plant room and lift shaft going from basement level to the first floor. To construct the basement level extension, Bakers excavated 4m deep, formed a new steel reinforced slab and carried out underpinning and structural steel works to support the ground floor walls. An underground drainage and tanking system were installed to the basement level extension as well as a ducting and airflow system.

Restoration Works

The restoration works involved localised brick repair, cleaning, replacement and repointing to the external walls. The bricks consisted of glazed bricks, London reds and yellow stocks. To the front of the meeting house all render was removed and a breathable three coat render was applied once repairs had been carried out. To the majority of the sides and the rear of the building the masonry remains exposed.

A complete overhaul and repair of all wooden sash windows included the pullies and weights being adjusted and services, some were re-glazed and new ironmongery was installed to all. Some stone window sills were replaced by Baker’s sister company Collins and Curtis. Stone monument repairs were also carried out and a ramp and stone clad stairs were installed in Scoutmoor Stone. A two coat lime render was applied throughout the meeting house.

Roof Repairs

Roof repairs took place and a new roof light installed within the apse roof (a semi-circular recess at the end of the chapel). A new raised entrance ramp and reception area into the chapel was formed. Repairs were carried out to the wooden skirting, doors and dado rails, together with the existing profile skirting and ornate fibrous plaster coving.

New M&E and AV Package

All electrics and plumbing were removed before the new M&E package was installed. The £208,000 M&E package included a new heating system with a BMS (building management system), lighting, data, an access control system, CCTV, intruder alarm, fire alarm, small power and ventilation. The extensive £40,000 AV package enables live streaming of services and a speaker system and projection system designed for events and concerts.

A Successful Outcome for the Project

As a result of the restoration and refurbishment project carried out by Bakers of Danbury; Newington Green Meeting House has been removed from the Historic England's Heritage At Risk Register,