Cast Iron offers many benefits
• great strength and durability
• long life
• low maintenance
• cost effective
• low noise operation
• fire resistance
It is also able to withstand the rigours of on site handling, mechanical de-blocking and vandalism. It provides design capabilities that will meet the needs of restoration, refurbishment and conservation work equally as well as new, bespoke and unique designs. Cast iron is 100% recyclable and can be returned to the foundry for re-use.
The combination of these benefits and features is a matchless product that delivers lifetime solutions to drainage needs. The benefits of specifying Tuscan Foundry products are the ease of availability throughout the UK and Ireland, excellent service and a wealth of experience that can be called upon for advice and information about your particular needs.
Tuscan Foundry Products provide building solutions in cast iron that add character and durability to homes of distinction.
All our traditional cast iron rainwater and soil products are manufactured in grey iron and conform to BS460 for rainwater goods and BS416 for soil goods.The same experience and skills extend to our own pattern shop where in addition to standard products we can also meet exceptional needs for new or bespoke designs and to conserve or replace original pieces.
With any listed property it is imperative that any alteration or renovation meets regulations which may require the expertise of a Conservation Officer from the Council or English Heritage to oversee the project. Even when period properties aren’t listed, renovations or alterations should still be sympathetic to the building’s original architecture.
For example, the majority of Victorian or Edwardian buildings have cast iron gutters, downpipes and hopper heads that should be preserved as part of the buildings heritage and original character. Decorative features like hopper heads, or rainwater heads as they are more commonly known, are especially important to the architectural value of a property as it is often an indication of the building’s age by displaying either a date, coat of arms or initials.
Therefore, before making any alterations or renovations to a period property it should be a priority to consider whether external features like the rainwater system can be restored. If however, the external feature is beyond repair then ideally it should be replaced with the same material as conservation bodies such as the SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) would generally suggest.
Sourcing the right materials for alterations and renovations that meet regulations is essential, however, this can pose a problem, especially if the material is no longer manufactured. For example, rainwater products or gutter brackets would have been manufactured at a foundry situated in the same vicinity as the property. Unfortunately the majority of local foundries no longer exist, making it more difficult to obtain a particular profile.
Tuscan Foundry Products have taken this into consideration and have produced a number of traditional cast iron gutter and down pipe profiles that replicate original period designs. This includes profiles that are also specific to regions.
Even with this variety of profiles, sometimes an unusual shape means a bespoke piece has to be cast. This happens frequently with ornate decorative features such as a hopper head as finding a reproduction of an original design is virtually impossible. Where there is only one surviving hopper head, cast iron foundries can replicate the original to produce a matching pair. This skilled process is achieved by hand carving the decorative pattern onto wood supported by a rigid framework and then pouring resin into the carving.
This proves that every aspect of the exterior of a period building has historic value. It is important that further investigation into restoring the original feature is carried out or a heritage product that replicates the original design in the same material is sourced.
Heritage building products offer huge benefits, not only are they in keeping with the original architecture but they are often more durable than off the shelf products. For example, cast iron is renowned for its longevity hence the number of historic rainwater systems still functioning.
As mentioned earlier the trend of converting disused buildings and the popularity of loft conversions has created a demand for specialised heritage products. Adapting these buildings has become a sensitive issue especially when the property has historic value. Most alterations have to meet strict conservation regulations, which can often present huge challenges to the developer especially if the property was never intended for domestic purposes.
One of these challenges is introducing natural light into the property, which is why a rooflight is an absolute godsend. Ironically rooflights were introduced by the Victorians to introduce light into agricultural buildings during the 19th century. Now, everywhere you look rooflights are used as an ideal design solution to convert roof areas into functional living quarters.
Due to the rooflights ability to introduce an even distribution of light to large low-level structures discretely but effectively, they are a popular option when a converting building such as a barn. In most cases agricultural buildings are situated in conservation areas and are often listed. A period property that is undergoing a loft conversion may also be located in a conservation area or if listed, will have to adhere to heritage regulations. Therefore if a rooflight is going to be introduced it has to meet the conservation specifications of that particular area or type of building. Matthew Slocombe of SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) advises:
“Domestic conversions are not always suitable for old farm buildings. Where it is the only way to secure an old barn’s future, ensuring the detail of the conversion work is sympathetic will be crucial to the scheme’s success. Sympathetic detailing is also likely to be a condition of consent, if the barn is listed or in a conservation area. New openings should generally be kept to a minimum and should be of a simple form that respects the farm building’s character. If rooflights are needed the Local Planning Authority will normally require a flush-fitting type.”
The requirement of a rooflight to sit flush is the main difference between a normal rooflight and a conservation rooflight. As a result of the strict regulations, conservation rooflights have become a recognised heritage product that is often suggested by organisations such as SPAB and English Heritage.
To meet the requirements of a conservation roofight, Tuscan Foundry Products have designed a rooflight with a low profile that is unobtrusive. It is also a common requirement that there is a minimum amount of visual framework especially when rooflights are linked together. In these cases steel conservation rooflights are ideal as they are made specifically to provide slender sections which are unobtrusive.
As pointed out earlier, new openings should be kept to a minimum within a barn conversion. However, given that rooflights let in vast amounts of natural light this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. Sunspots are another product that can be used in a conservation environment to further enhance natural light but again, is not allowed to be obtrusive to the architecture.
Tuscan Foundry Products have supplied many refurbishment projects across the country including ten bespoke skylights to allow light into a 18th century stable block which was being converted into three maisonettes. Both English Heritage and the Local Conservation Officer were involved in overseeing this project. It was important that the external appearance was dealt with sensitively to protect the historic architectural character of the stable block and its setting. Although the skylights were necessary to let in daylight, they weren’t allowed to overlook the manor house and grounds. Installing long and narrow skylights meant they could be positioned high up the roof to let in ample natural light without being imposing.
“The SPAB has always felt that, with respect for historic fabric, and use of good design, craftsmanship and traditional materials, it is often possible to add to an old building imaginatively and sympathetically,” concludes Matthew Slocombe of SPAB.
Even though there are huge amount of heritage products available on the market it is always advisable to seek advice from the experts such as Tuscan.