Turner Baker recently had the privilege to be involved in the restoration of a beautiful Grade II country house in the Somerset countryside. Hadspen House, had been the home of the Hobhouse family until 2014 when it was purchased by South African businessman Koos Bekker and his wife.
The property and gardens have undergone an extensive but sympathetic transformation process over the last few years to turn the former family home into a boutique hotel.
Turner Baker were part of the project team working on the original building with the overall construction phase being run by Beard Construction.
To retain the country house feel of the property the team at Simon Morray Jones decided to re-establish the open fires in principal rooms of the new hotel.
Re-instating a previously unused flue is not as simple as just removing the boarding, getting the chimney swept and hoping that it works. It must be established that the flue is safe before attempting to use it.
To that end, Turner Baker were asked to camera survey seven of the existing flues to establish if they were still fit for purpose. “Camera surveys are an important first step when establishing if a flue that hasn’t been used for a while can be reinstated” said Edward Turner, Managing Director at Turner Baker ltd. “It allows you to see if there are any blockages in the flue, what the condition of the flue is like and whether it has been used for any services like plumbing or cabling in the recent past.”
The next step in the project was to ensure that all of the specifications were correct – did the existing flue sizes work with the fireplace sizes required to accommodate the chimney pieces supplied by Jamb of Pimlico Road, London? “This is a crucial part of the project” continues Edward, “Get this right and your open fire, using well-seasoned wood, will burn beautifully. Get it wrong and you run the risk of a fire that refuses to go or worse, smoke spilling into the room, which would be unbearable for the guests.”
Having ascertained the correct specifications, the Turner Baker installation team were then involved, working alongside Beard Construction to line the flues. Edward specified Furanflex RWV liners for all of the flues except one, which was lined with a stainless steel for a multi-fuel stove. Furanflex is a thermosetting resin lining system that offers several advantages over other flue liners. The liner is supplied as a flexible tube which can be inserted into a flue and which is then steamed or ‘cured’ into a hardened structure that is resistant to heat and high temperatures.
For properties with flues that have bends in them – and this was the case for several of the flues at The Newt in Somerset – the malleability of the Furanflex liner is an advantage as it allows the liner to be passed through the length of the flue without the danger of damaging the liner.
The Furanflex flue liner can be installed and it can mould to take the existing shape of the flue which maximises the cross-sectional area of the flue. This is critical, as any change to the size of the flue can affect the performance of the open fire. Various other lining systems are a set shape and may reduce the size of the flue which in turn affects performance.
Additionally, the Furanflex flue liner doesn’t adhere itself to the inside of the flue and can therefore be removed if necessary. This makes it an ideal option for heritage properties with listing restrictions which won’t allow for permanent changes to the structure.
Another reason that Furanflex liners work well for The Newt in Somerset is that the flue lining system is guaranteed for 25 years.
A Furanflex liner can only be installed by chimney professionals using specialist equipment. The Turner Baker installation team have not only been trained to use Furanflex but also have extensive experience in installing these liners in heritage properties.
The Newt in Somerset was officially opened to the public during the last weekend in August 2019. The attention to detail of this project has resulted in the transformation of a property and its surroundings that will be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come.