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Replacement steel windows bring original aesthetics and energy savings

Built in 1896, the Old Town Hall in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, had fallen into disuse but, following an extensive £8 million redevelopment programme, the Grade II* listed building has been reopened as the Redhouse, an arts and creative industries centre. A key aspect of the renovation was the replacement of steel windows in 34 openings by Steel Window Association member M.R.S. Wales which replicated the originals and fitted energy saving high-tech double glazing. 

When the Old Town Hall’s use as a civic building ended in 1989 it was divested to private ownership before suffering disrepair and vandalism. Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association purchased the building in 2007 and worked was supported by its funding partners; the Welsh Government, European Regional Development Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, CADW & Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in association with Miller Argent to save it and preserve its heritage while introducing brand new arts facilities and technologies.

M.R.S. Wales used original windows rescued from the Old Town Hall as templates for the modern replacements. At the company’s South Wales factory W20 rolled steel sections were used to fabricate the new windows as they provide a close aesthetic match to the original profiles. Once each unit was complete it was hot-dip galvanized and a high quality polyester powder coat finish was then applied.

The team from M.R.S. Wales installed the new windows into the building’s terracotta and stone facades. Pilkington Spacia double glazing units were then fitted. This energy-saving and high-tech double glazing is the world’s first commercially available vacuum glazing and, importantly, is only 7mm thick.

Another aspect of the project undertaken by M.R.S. Wales was the renovation of the complex mechanisms originally installed to operate some of the windows. These are required for the windows at high levels and include vertical shafts for levers that allow a handle to be cranked to open and close the windows.

Paul Taylor, a director at M.R.S. Wales, comments: “The new windows retain all the elegance of the originals that were such a major feature of architect E A Johnson’s final 1890s design for the Old Town Hall. At the same time we’ve brought them up to modern standards so they have the advantage both of energy efficiency and the very slim sight lines that only steel windows can offer.”