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Article Date: 10th February 2020

Selectaglaze - Upholding Mill Tradition whilst Improving Thermal Performance

Selectaglaze Upholding Mill Tradition Image

The Grade II* Listed Blue Mills in Witham, Essex dates back to the 18th century. The ‘blue’ either referred to the blue wash used on the mill building, or to indicate the mill being downstream from the other two Witham mills. Until the close of the 19th century it provided flour for the manorial community. The original 16th century cottage is annexed to a Georgian house (at the front), a sequence of early Victorian extensions, and a later Victorian house in 1872 (at the rear).

At present, the Mill has been reinstated to its 18th century version, with surviving machinery used as adornments and effective monuments to pay homage to the proud history of Blue Mills. The turret clock which was purchased by previous owner Dr Grabham in the post milling era is still in place and in full working order.

 One can envisage that there is a never-ending list of jobs and repairs to be carried out in an aged property like Blue Mills, which has had various elements added to it over time. The recent owners have lived in Blue Mills for almost 20 years and required a thermal solution, with acoustic benefits to make their home more comfortable. The thermally inefficient primary windows across most of the house did little to retain heat.

It was important to the owners that an effective resolution would complement the existing architecture of the building. They got in touch with Selectaglaze for advice on the best possible treatments for their primary windows; a mixture of timber sash windows, fixed lights and inward or outward opening casements. The quirks and irregularities around some of the bay windows meant that a considered approach was required.

To start with, Selectaglaze visited the Mill to measure and evaluate all the windows that required improving. The owners were also keen to try and colour match the secondary frame in a wood panelled room to make them as unobtrusive as possible. Furthermore, they requested for trickle vents to be included in the secondary glazing.

Once the owners were pleased with the bespoke solutions suggested, they went forward with the install. Despite the property being Listed, Maldon District Council confirmed that no formal Listed Building Consent was required for the works.

A total of 22 windows have been treated thus far using a number of window styles: fixed light, vertical sliding and side-hung casements. Two windows in the wood-panelled room were treated with Selectaglaze’s heritage Series 47 hinged casement system which was able to sit tight behind the wooden shutters, permitting their continued operation. The aluminium profiles were coloured in a woodgrain finish which colour matched the existing surrounds perfectly.

The stunning Billiard Room was fitted with four Series 45 side hung casements. Moreover a Series 25 vertical sliding unit was installed as one of the windows in the Billiard Room was larger than the other. The front door was treated with a mixture of two Series 42 fixed light units on either side of a Series 41 double-side hung casement, whilst the rear door was fitted with a Series 41 Side hung casement. The bay windows on the ground and first floors were the most challenging treatments because the primary windows were not plumb and true, because of the age of the building. In order to prepare the bay windows for the secondary glazing, tapered timbers were fixed to the openings to square up the reveals.

The lady of the house quite appropriately mentioned that “old houses need to breathe”. The bedrooms in the Victorian part of the house had ventilators affixed within an enlarged timber sub-frame at the head of each secondary window, confirming that there was sufficient ventilation to provide a change of air and to reduce condensation.

With the key issue being heat retention, the owners are overjoyed with their decision to use Selectaglaze. As the secondary glazing has proved to significantly reduced heat loss, along with high performance seals eliminating draughts, more windows will be treated at Blue Mills later this year.

“We have been so impressed by the design of the windows and frames and the bespoke options. External noise has been all but eliminated and the air tight fittings and thickness of glass will significantly reduce our energy bill. The framings actually enhance the inherent beauty of the Georgian windows and in no way obscure the views outside. Initially we were focused on the windows at the back of the house but were so pleased with the outcome we doubled our order to include the front upper levels of the Georgian house. The Selectaglaze product has certainly transformed the living experience of our home.”

Founded in 1966, and Royal Warrant Holder since 2004, Selectaglaze has a wealth of experience working in buildings of all styles, including Listed properties. A wide range of extensively tested products and fully bespoke manufacture allows sympathetic designs to be created for all types of window. Literature and guidance notes covering acoustics, thermal performance and added security are offered together with a technical advisory service and RIBA approved CPD Seminars.

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