Getting a handle on small details

It’s all very well drawing up plans for a major internal refurbishment but if you overlook the small details the outcome can be disappointing.

With this in mind, a considerable amount of effort has been spent researching apparently minor details. One example of this can be seen in the array of doorknobs being assembled to go inside the refurbished building.

This might sound like an unnecessary thing to spend time on, but imagine how awful a large, dark wood door would look if you opened it by turning a modern, pull-down handle. The statement effect of such a door would be ruined. Details are important.

This was a relatively easy job for the Bridge Chapel, which includes just three doors, but in the larger Bridge Chamber there are a lot more doors and they’re all different. As you can see from these images:


Constructed in the late 1870s and first officially used in April 1880, the Chamber comprises two floors and is of its day. What we mean by this is that the building was designed to meet the standards required of Victorian Britain, with various upgrades and changes over the years – for instance adaptations to meet evolving safety standards and access requirements. This has worked to a point, but it is the reason we’re carrying out this internal refurbishment today.

So, what does that have to do with doorknobs?

Take a look at this door:

This is one of the doors into the Courtroom, on the first floor of the Chamber. It’s the room above the front door, which has the nice big window looking out onto the river and, most importantly, offering a view of the bridges. This is the room where the Wardens and Assistants of the Rochester Bridge Trust traditionally hold their Court Meetings.

It’s an impressive door, it matches the wooden panelling of the wall, but can you see what’s wrong with it?

Look closely and you can see daylight through a crack running the length of one of the bottom panels. As a minor detail the escutcheon (the protective plate for the keyhole) is also damaged. Not visible, but easy to deduce based on the crack, is the fact the door is also only one panel thick and it does not meet modern day fire safety standards. With increased access and use of the building, the time has come and the 1879 door has to go.

That statement might be met with horror – as you visualise the ugly, functional fire doors of modern office blocks – but as we’ve already mentioned, modern-looking details are not acceptable in this grand heritage building.

Thanks to the work of Medway Joinery, the door is being replaced with a new purpose-made door of the same style and proportions that’s designed to meet current fire safety requirements and fit in with the period of the building. To do that it needs appropriate door furniture to match.

After much research, this is the result:

We think you’ll agree it is well matched as a replacement to the 1879 doorknob.

But if we’re replacing the doors, why did we need to go to the trouble of finding identical doorknobs?

Simply, we’re not replacing all of the doors. Some of them already meet the necessary requirements, and wherever possible we are retaining original features, which means it’s more important than ever to ensure all their details match.

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