History Today

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Cast in Style Victorian HouseVery few houses over a hundred years old have survived unaltered. In many cases, the effects of the weather and pollution and the additions, repairs and extensions made by several generations of inhabitants have changed them to such an extent that their builders would have difficulty in recognising them.

Before the listing of buildings of architectural importance began in Scotland in 1933, and in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1947, ownership conferred the right to pull down anything considered obsolete or which stood in the way of the future development. For this change of attitude we must be thankful to William Morris, the instigator in 1877 of the society for the protection of Ancient Buildings. He brought to public attention the state of many medieval buildings which were then suffering serious neglect or were threatened with demolition

We think of ourselves as more enlightened today, but our aesthetic vandalism is more insidious. If a roof needed retiling in the 19th century, the chances are that the replacements would have been made from the same clay – or even the same kiln – as the originals. Nowadays there are countless substitutes on the market, and nearly all of them are visually inferior to the originals. A glance down any Victorian street will illustrate this sad decline. The roofline will probably have suffered most, with slates replaced by interlocking concrete tiles and cast-iron gutters by plastic ones. Nor will the facades have survived unscathed; good brickwork will have been painted over or repointed in course cement mortar, and sashes will have given way to aluminium-framed or PVC windows.

We do everything we can to bring you original British period products which are sill made in the original way and, in the case of Kirkpatrick, are still made at the same foundry they were made at 150 years ago. Let us know about your renovation successes and send in your pictures to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/castinstyleuk

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