Connecting heritage buildings to the modern world

The internal refurbishment of our Bridge Chamber and Bridge Chapel has involved a lot of hidden works, which will never be seen but will make a significant difference to the comfort of visitors and staff – and to the environment.

One of the most significant changes is the removal of the gas supply to the building, which fed the boiler and kitchen appliances. This has been replaced with a three-phase electricity supply – with all our power coming from 100% renewable sources.

This means we have an all-electric building that is now more environmentally friendly and is not reliant on a fossil fuel.

Appliances are all electric and an air source heat pump provides heating via a combination of traditional looking radiators and underfloor pipes, in conjunction with air handling within the Courtroom and Reading Room – meaning these areas can be heated or cooled as required. More about this when we talk about work to the Archive.

A Building Management System (BMS) has been installed to enable us to control the heating off site. This means we can more easily prepare the building for use without the need to travel there in advance. It is also more efficient and therefore environmentally friendly because the system resets itself to maintain a constant temperature for the good of the building and its art and furniture collection. This is approximately 12-15C.

Remote access to the upgraded CCTV security and fire systems has also been provided so we can see what’s going on even when we are not there.

All new lighting uses LEDs. As we have previously mentioned during our recent bridge refurbishment project, this change provides many advantages. These include:

  • Longevity – traditional bulbs have filaments that burn out quicker compared with LEDs.
  • Reduced maintenance requirements as bulbs need to be replaced less often.
  • They are highly energy efficient and cost much less to run.
  • They do not create heat, which makes them ideal for rooms containing artworks, heritage items and archives.

With the new lighting came new cabling. For safety this is all fire resistant. Being Victorian and medieval, neither of these buildings was constructed with modern technology in mind and so a great success of the project is that miles and miles of cables have been installed but cannot be seen. This took a lot of preparation during the planning stage.

Further cabling has been installed for our new IT network, which uses Cat6A cabling suitable for high-speed, high-capacity data transfer. This is supported by a new fibre optic link to the building for broadband services and to connect the Chamber to our other offices.

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