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Glazed ceramic tile letters restored

The project team handling the refurbishment of a landmark commercial property in the East End of London has called on the services of Plastic Surgeon to tackle the challenge of restoring the very prominent ceramic tile lettering declaring the name of the building’s original owners.

Glazed Victorian tile repairThe three-storey office building is to be branded as The Pillbox, having been constructed between the wars by pharmaceutical manufacturer, Allen & Hanburys Ltd; with the company logo picked out in three-foot high letters above the entrance.  Now the property is being extensively modernised and converted into smaller individual offices by serviced space specialist, Workspace, with HG Construction being the main contractor; and FSP Architects leading the design work.

While these professionals share a wealth of experience in regeneration projects, repairing the glazed letters which are bonded to the brickwork and which had suffered from severe weathering as well as physical knocks, presented a new problem. And it is one which modern signage companies, or even traditional trades like fibrous plasterwork specialists, just cannot offer an answer to.

Fortunately an on-line search brought up the website for Plastic Surgeon – the UK’s only national specialist, and a visit from the company’s London region sales manager produced a firm quote for putting right the damage.

The size of the sign and the extent of the remedial work required kept one of Plastic Surgeon’s most experienced Finishers busy for a full 10 days – with assistance in the final stages from two of his colleagues – but the outcome has come up to the aspirations of the project team.

The Contracts Manager for HG Construction, Connor Rice, commented: “This building has a long history to it, having been rebuilt after the First World War due to serious bomb damage. It was the premises of Allen & Hanburys, a pharmaceutical company, and is now being converted for Workspace, which specialises in serviced office accommodation.

“Preserving the large ceramic tile letters on the main elevation was an important part of the refurbishment and we were having difficulty finding a specialist willing to attempt the task. Fortunately the consultants, FSP Architects and Planners, found Plastic Surgeon on the Internet.

“The Finisher has done a nice job on it which has blended in well, and the client is pleased with the work which is the most important thing.”

Damaged Victorian tiled letters repairColin Tommins, the Operations Manager for the Eastern Region, explained how the outcome was achieved. He said: “The state of the Allen & Hanburys sign was quite daunting when we started and required the Finisher to adopt a variety of repair strategies depending on the nature of the repair – ranging from small chips and gouges to large chunks and even the letter ‘R’ being missing. The face to some of them had been blown by the frost as well.

“In order to build back the big areas we used sections of Corex – which they make worktops out of – as a shutter or mould, then filled in with fixer foam or our cementitious product. Then the actual shape or profile was completed using our Ultra-Premium or in some cases our carbon fillers, coloured with the stone pigments which the Finishers carry in their vans. Inevitably there was also a lot of rubbing down to ensure the surface finish and reflectance were as close as possible to the original appearance. It has been a very interesting job.”

Plastic Surgeon has over 150 highly trained Finishers active on sites across the UK with the skillset enabling them to repair all of the common building substrates including brick, stone, metal, timber, uPVC composites and glass, while the company’s R&D department is constantly developing new repair techniques.

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