Oakfield House is the Victorian Conference and Wedding venue at the heart of Chester Zoo. It was designed by the architect Edward Ould and built around 1885.
Various restoration tasks were being carried out including the relining of the flues to the beautiful fireplaces in the main function rooms which are used extensively in the winter. The picture below shows one of the fireplaces currently being used with a wood burning stove, which the owners wished to reinstate with an open fire.
Turner Baker was not the first company to be approached to undertake the project. The original contractors recommended that for the very tall, narrow chimneys with multiple bends of Oakfield House that stainless steel liners would be a workable solution.
Unfortunately, as the lining work got underway it became obvious that stainless steel liners were not a good solution. The liners got stuck within the flues (see picture below), unable to negotiate the narrow bends.
The architects responsible for the project then contacted Turner Baker and we were able to recommend that for these particular flues, there was a better solution – a Furanflex liner.
Furanflex is a thermosetting resin lining system. In laymen’s terms this means a liner that is supplied as a soft malleable material which can be inserted into a chimney and which is then steamed or ‘cured’ into a hardened structure that is resistant to heat and high temperatures.
What made Furanflex the best option for the chimneys of Oakfield House? Firstly, the flexibility. When the liners were dropped into the chimneys they were flexible tubes that could be manoeuvred into place around the narrow bends without damaging either the existing chimney structure or the liner.
Secondly, the Furanflex liner moulded itself to the existing shape of the flue and didn’t reduce the size of the already narrow flues.
Thirdly, the Furanflex liner doesn’t adhere itself to the chimney and can therefore be easily removed if necessary. This makes it an ideal option for a heritage property like Oakfield House with listing restrictions which won’t allow for permanent changes to the structure.
Turner Baker accessed the head of the chimney from a scaffolding platform. The FuranFlex liner was inserted, inflated and cured to the correct position using specialist steaming equipment.
If you would like to see a video showing a Furanflex installation, please click through to the Furanflex page on the Turner Baker website here http://turnerbaker.co.uk/linings-products/furanflex/