The George Hotel
A piece of local history
A building rich in local and cultural history
The George Hotel is a Grade II* Listed building with high historical value gained from its central role in the history of the town centre development in the 19th Century. The building is intrinsically linked to the arrival of the railway in Huddersfield and the Ramsden Estate’s development of the ‘New Town’ planned around it. The hotel is also renowned as the birthplace of rugby league in 1895.
The 60-bed hotel, which also sits within a conservation area, was opened in 1851 but closed its doors in January 2013 and was sadly left unoccupied and deteriorating with no maintenance works being carried out.
The regeneration of a town
In March 2020 Kirklees Council purchased the historic building and have begun carrying out extensive refurbishment and restoration works to develop it into a Radisson RED Hotel with an increased and modernised capacity.
We were appointed to first phase of the project which involved carrying out vital structural and restoration repairs to the historic building.
The works form part of the ‘Huddersfield Blueprint’ which will see the significant regeneration of the town centre.
The scheme is a ten-year vision, which hopes to create a thriving, modern-day town centre, is focusing on six key areas: Station Gateway, St Peter’s, Kingsgate, New Street, Civic Quarter and a new cultural hub in the Queensgate and Piazza area. The George Hotel, due to its location, acts as a key cornerstone of this Blueprint vision.
Following the first phase of the George Hotel project, (which involved erecting scaffolding around the historic structure and performing temporary damp proofing works in order to protect the building from any further damage), we were appointed by Kirklees Council to lead Phase 2 which focused on the structural stabilisation of the historic building along with whole scale roof investigation rectifications and external façade repairs.
Repairing the roof structure
The roof of the hotel was in a significant state of disrepair and required urgent attention to prevent any further damage. The project team replaced the timber and leadwork while preserving as much of the historical building fabric as possible.
A collaborative approach
Working closely with Historic England, Kirklees Conservation Group, Kirklees Council and the appointed conservation architects, Bowman Riley, the extensive structural refurbishment and repair works to the stonework, timberwork, roof, and windows form an essential basis for the remodelling and redesign plans for the new hotel.
Such works also ensure the life of the historic building is dramatically extended, future-proofing and preserving it for generations to come.
Upon initial investigation, it was found that the hotel was in a worse state of structural repair than previously envisaged. Due to the condition of the building and concerns about its safety, a significant consideration for this scheme was initiating the restoration works as quickly as possible.
Working closely with Kirklees Council, Historic England and the conservation architect, special provisions were made to secure conservation area planning consent within very short timescales.
Conservation and restoration
Sensitively repairing and restoring the building’s historical features
Some of the historic stonework had suffered damage over the years. Where it was not possible to repair the existing stone, we worked with contractors William Birch & Sons and their heritage specialist stone experts, Mono Masonry, to procure stone to match that of the existing building. An exact match was found at Wellfield Quarry, Huddersfield, where the original had been sourced in the 19th Century. This was then intricately handcrafted to match the historical stonework.
The beam, which runs through the centre of the hotel and forms part of the main roof structure, was found to be suffering from extensive dry rot which has caused part of it to deteriorate. It was also revealed that the beam, and other areas of the roof, had suffered from historic fire damage – thought to have occurred in the 1920s but never recorded.
Following a successful application to conservation authorities, a structurally unstable water tower and a lift-shaft tower were both removed due to concerns over the safety. Both were subject to failed brick work and years of water ingress. Sensitive restoration works have been carried out at both former sites, ensuring the areas are watertight and stable.
The roof was suffering from major water ingress which was affecting the timber structure. It has undergone extensive restoration works including the installation of new leadwork and timber. The new elements have been carefully blended with the old and installed by specialist contractors who employed the same construction methods as seen in the original build. This included elements such as using pegs to secure the timber beams.
The buildings original windows have been preserved where possible following sensitive repair works to the existing frames and the installation of vacuum glazing. Where these were unsalvageable, bespoke replacements have been installed to match the historic windows.
The next phase of the transformation to a new hotel
Now the first phase of the scheme has been successfully completed, the final phase to complete the remodelling work and breath life back into the historic building as a hotel fit for the future will commence.
In line with their long-term decarbonisation plans, Kirklees Council are also keen to include sustainability features as part of the redevelopment work and are targeting a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.
The new hotel will be operated by Radisson RED.
Huddersfield Train Station
To improve access for passengers, enhance the customer experience and provide better office and welfare facilities, we were appointed to manage the refurbishment of the historic station.
We are acting as Lead Designer, and in an advisory role as Conservation Architect, to provide a programme of external fabric repairs to preserve and protect the historic buildings.
One of the largest parish churches in the UK our building consultancy team were appointed to laser scan the Minster.