The Audley – October 2020

The original building in Mount Street was licensed in 1730 as the Bricklayers Arms and features as part of its construction red glazed bricks and pink terracotta. Thomas Verity, who was responsible for the design and construction of the pavilion at Lord’s Cricket ground in St Johns Wood, designed and rebuilt the Audley in 1889 for James Watney & Co. The first Duke of Westminster imposed a condition that they renamed it the Audley Hotel.

Situated close to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, the Audley has been a community pub and a favourite with celebrities. Sean Connery and Hugh Grant are known to have visited and Michelle Obama ate here with her children when she wanted them to have an authentic English pub experience.

The Audley has seen its share of action having suffered damage during the war from Luftwaffe bombing and sustaining damage during an IRA bombing of a nearby restaurant in 1975, blowing out all of the windows – leaving few of its historic features intact.

HUSH PM&C were brought in to project manage the renovation of the Grade II listed building by Grosvenor in late 2019. The client wanted to re-invest in the asset, restore many of the lost historic features and reopen it as a pub but with modern, sustainable facilities and systems including improved disabled access that would allow it to be successfully operated long into the future.

A requirement of the project brief that a detailed investigation be undertaken of the external structure and façade.

Clarkebond’s specialist façade team, joining Moxley (Architects) and MNP (Structural Engineers) were engaged to carry out detailed surveys and with input from other specialist renovation companies, a full scope of works and brief was produced.

Darwen Terracotta were consulted as being one of the few UK based companies to produce terracotta of the type and detail of that required for The Audley.

Darwen Terracotta are specialist manufacturers of terracotta who have the experience and technical ability to match the existing detail and colours by recreating construction methods that are often centuries old. They have helped in the renovation of some of the most iconic historical buildings in the country, including the Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, and Harrods department store in London.

The main contractor on the project (Grangewood Builders Ltd) worked closely with Priest Restoration Limited, who were appointed to carry out the entire façade restoration works to agree the scope and sequence of the works. Darwen’s survey team produced CAD drawings of each section and their colour development laboratory worked to match the colour of the existing terracotta. Models of the sections were CNC produced in polystyrene, and from this a reverse plaster mould was made in the traditional fashion in line with site requirements.

Each section was then hand finished by skilled craftsmen to achieve the finish specified and was then dried in humidity controlled drying rooms prior to glazing, if required, and before kiln firing for around 30 hours at 1200 degrees Celsius.

Following kiln firing, each piece was carefully checked to ensure it matched the required specifications of colour, shape, size and finish before it was packed and delivered to the Audley for installation in accordance with the agreed delivery plan.

The skills that Darwen Terracotta (formerly part of one of the oldest and highly respected terracotta companies Shaws of Darwen) preserved have allowed the crafts people to continue working in an exceptionally specialised and technical discipline, producing high-quality terracotta that allows historic buildings to be preserved.

HUSH has the knowledge and experience that allows us to work together with specialist teams from all disciplines bringing each element into place at the right time to allow difficult and complex projects to be brought to a successful conclusion.

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