Earlier this year we were approached by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios to work on the Footprint Project at Bath Abbey. It was great to be back at the Abbey, where we have completed a number of projects over the years.
The Footprint Project is a £14.9 million project to rejuvenate the Abbey and move from the past to the future, harnessing modern technology, eco-friendly alternatives and utilising the space within the Abbey for new initiatives
Part of this work involved the most significant addition to the Abbey since the Jackson extension, which was built in the 1920s – the new staircase. This stair leads from the shop area to the newly excavated space under the Jackson extension, which will serve as the Discovery Centre – an educational centre dedicated to helping people learn about the history and heritage of Bath Abbey. It also leads to all the vault facilities, and for the first time, provides a route for the choir to move from the rehearsal spaces into the Abbey itself, without venturing outside.
We were brought onto the project to help advise on the design for the balustrade, with our extensive knowledge of both techniques and design, and worked with the main contractors, Emery, who had the cast concrete and stone stair installed, and Yeo Valley Joinery to ensure the wooden handrail was fitted to our steelwork to perfection.
The balustrade is made of 25mm diameter mild steel bars with a forged fluted end detail, described as having ‘ecclesiastical overtones’ by the designers, and each individual bar fits into the Somerset Blue Lias Stone treads, finished with a flat disc collar. The handrail is oak, with an oiled finish to compliment the dark grey brown colour of the painted balustrade.
The shop area and other new spaces are due to open to the public November 1st 2021.
We will be back at the Abbey again soon, to fit the new corkscrew handrails to the spiral staircases, and railings to the roof crenellations, to make the Abbey safer for those taking tours of this ancient local landmark.