Historic building preservation brings Curtis Painting Group a major national award

A RESTORATION project to save one of the region’s most important historic buildings from ruin has won a major national award for Curtis Painting Group.

The industrial and commercial painting business has been named Supreme Winner of the Johnstone’s Painter of the Year competition for its work in bringing the world heritage site of Burton Manor, in Wirral’s Burton Village, back to its former glory.

The company, which also received a separate accolade as winner of the awards’ Restoration category, faced competition from projects on some of the most iconic buildings and prestigious residential, retail, education and leisure projects in the UK.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, judging in this year’s Johnstone’s Painter of the Year Awards was done in an online vote by professionals across the country’s industrial and commercial painting sectors.

Curtis Painting Group was chosen not only because of the quality of its work on Burton Manor but also by its teams’ restoration skills and commitment to breathing new life into the Grade II listed building which, apart from being the national headquarters of technical and engineering recruitment business Russell Taylor, is a hub of community activity for residents of Burton Village.

Managing director Gary Owen described the company being named Painter of the Year as the “ultimate accolade”.

He said: “Voting to affirm us as Supreme Winner of the competition was done by our industry peers, industrial and commercial painting professionals who are themselves involved in diverse high-profile projects all over the country. To be judged by them is the ultimate accolade for us - there can’t be anything greater.

“Work to restore the Burton Manor heritage site has also been a massive privilege for us, knowing we have contributed to making this extremely complex project a reality.

“It was a building with great history but a place that for many years no one wanted. Within an inch of ruin – it was borderline beyond repair - it’s now back to its former glory, is a wonderful place to work and once again a valued community resource.”

Burton Manor, which was given world heritage status in 1974, is the former family home of Henry Neville Gladstone, son of Prime Minister William Gladstone. It had been disused since 2011 and its previous owner, Liverpool City Council, which has run it as a residential adult educational college, put the building up for sale three years later. However, unsuccessful attempts to purchase and develop led to the deterioration of the house and its grounds, with fears of complete ruin.

The property was bought by a local developer two years ago who gained planning permission to convert the building into office space for Russell Taylor’s new national headquarters.

Curtis Painting Group’s contracts manager Dave McCormick said key to the success of the entire project was the minute attention to detail paid by their specialist painters who worked with meticulous precision on the restoration of the once almost derelict building - all completed within the client’s 12-month timescale.

Achieving the desired result called for an elegant yet bold colour scheme in tune with the manor’s original features. An eye to simplicity allowed stained glass windows, fireplaces and ornate staircases to dominate and take centre stage.

Dave said: “We knew a massive job awaited us, starting with treating dry rot infestation - which was extensive and dangerous - and the renewal of many original Georgian features such as mouldings, delicate plasterwork and fireplaces, all in their spectacular settings including a grand entrance, ornate staircases, orangery, billiards room, library, music room and internal courtyard.

“Added to this was the restoration of an existing café - for staff use as well as for the local community - along with a number of newly-created small artisan shops.

“Although some of the restorative painting, exterior and interior, had been done prior to staff moving in to the building, we still needed to work to exceptionally tight timescales to make sure there was minimum disruption to the business. Coupled with these pressures were the stringent English Heritage principles we had to comply with and our consideration for residents of a close-knit village community so they would be disturbed as little as possible.

“The expertise of 10 of our painters and two apprentices, working as part of an 80-strong team including joiners, plasterers and electricians, has now brought the Burton Manor conservation dream to reality.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to have been such an important part of the building’s transformation and to see it beautifully preserved for future generations.”

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