Listed Building Calls For Specialist Skills From Electrical Contractor

Historic buildings set their own special challenges for electrical contractors. Midlands-based SCI Management demonstrated all their listed buildings expertise when installing new cabling, a 165KVA commercial kitchen and external lighting in the historic Stanbrook Abbey, Worcestershire.

In 2012 Stanbrook Abbey, a Grade II listed building, began phase I of a development that would convert the Abbey from a home for Benedictine Nuns into a world class event and conference centre. As the aim was to retain the integrity, ambience and historic character of the building it was important that contractors were able to demonstrate expertise and skills in working on listed building. SCI Management undertook the work which was completed and commissioned In August 2012.

The first challenge was to ensure that the existing character of the building – grade II listed for both internal and external features throughout – was retained, while the entire building was totally rewired and brought up to today’s standards. The original building was built in 1838 and contains a lot of ornate features. So SCI Management had to ensure that new wiring could be installed, without damaging any of the existing architecture or periodic features, both on the ceiling and walls.

Routing electrical cables around listed buildings

The Abbey is made up approximately eight individual buildings added onto each other. So there was a huge challenge in routing cables between them while maintaining current industry standards. Just as importantly, Stanbrook Abbey had a strict requirement that there must be no containment on show, so all cables had to be hidden!

Fortunately, SCI Management had the necessary skills to route the cables and mains supplies, meeting strict electrical standards while ensuring work is hidden, without any visible sign or any damage to the existing architecture.

SCI Management were responsible for installing a brand new 165KVA fully electric commercial kitchen.

Installing 165KVA commercial kitchen

In addition to handling all the cabling, SCI Management was responsible for installing a brand new 165KVA fully electric commercial kitchen. This required some special planning as, in the early stages, there was only a total of 172KVA supply for the entire building.

The kitchen had to be completely electric because there was no gas supply to the main kitchen area. The Benedictine Nuns used to use wood burners and electrical appliances to do their cooking. But they never had to contend with a full commercial kitchen catering for 300 people, serving three to five courses, twice a day.

To manage the period until Western Power could install a new 300KVA supply, SCI Management had to optimize the kitchen utilities, ensuring that cooking staff could only have certain items on at the same time, and installing a safety mechanism to prevent the kitchen from completely shutting down the entire facility by overloading it.

Stone chapel walls set unique challenges for cabling

Electrical work in the chapel posed another challenge: to maintain the existing electrical installation, ensuring safety, while not being able to run any visible new wiring. The interior is made of stone, so walls could not be chased out to hide any cabling. Without chasing, any new cables had to be clipped directly to surfaces, but had to be hidden away so not to be seen. Such an approach requires the particular skills and attention to detail that SCI Management have built up over years of specialist work, as all cables that are visible need to be neat and tidy, and tucked into corners and crevices where possible.

External lighting captures character of historic building and grounds

SCI Management installed the external lighting along the drive and around the front of the building. The lighting had to be designed to allow for future expansion while being easily maintainable. It also had to capture the character of the building and particular garden features. SCI Management achieved this by combing up-lighting of certain trees, with step lights for the main entrance and lighting up the front of the building – again without any lights being easily visible.

Fully completed and commissioned

The entire project started March 2012 and was fully completed and commissioned in August 2012. SCI Management handed over a full O&M (Operations and Maintenance) manual highlighting cable routes, identification of all switch gear and electrical equipment used, plus the necessary health and safety requirements for all maintenance tasks to allow both the caretaker and relevant staff to maintain the building without the need for a skilled electrician.