Award winning construction company uses conservation experience to bring historic Cardiff mansion house back to life

(Photo Caption: Grade II* listed Insole Court)

Grade II* listed Insole Court has been a property of great significance since its construction back in 1855, however, like many historic buildings, the Victorian mansion house had fell into disrepair due to the lack of funding to make such expensive improvements. That is until now… As part of a £2.25 million project, construction specialist Andrew Scott Ltd was tasked with the transformation of Insole Court in Llandaff, Cardiff, and after weeks of construction, the building’s Stable Yard facilities are set to open its doors on Thursday 8th December 2016.

“We are delighted to have been appointed as main contractors for this project. We are experienced conservation contractors with expertise and a proven track record in working on historic building projects and we recognise the significance and the importance of projects such as Insole Court,” said Mark Bowen, Managing Director at Andrew Scott Ltd.

Insole Court is a joint project being undertaken by a partnership between Cardiff City Council and registered charity the Insole Court Trust. Before construction began the mansion house was already partly in use to provide community facilities and office accommodation for the Welsh Co-operative Association Development Agency, however the upper floors of the building were largely vacant and in poor condition as were its outbuildings, including the original stable block.

The project initially had a timeline of 48 weeks, which was then extended to 78 weeks after the discovery of items with significant archaeological importance during the works. The contract was completed on 31st May 2016. The Andrew Scott team led the entire project and during the works also worked closely with the design team to establish the importance of the findings and produce a detailed approach on how to preserve and repair the discoveries and incorporate them into the final works.

Mark added, “We undertook a programme of repairs and improvements to the Court to bring it back into good condition and full beneficial use for a range of purposes including extensive community and heritage visitor facilities supported by catering and retail activities, and small business and commercial space for revenue generation.”

The history of Insole Court is extensive, a fact that means that even before development works were undertaken, its 14 acres of established gardens were heavily used by the public and the local community. The house was built for James Harvey Insole, a coal merchant and a man of growing importance in Cardiff. After its initial construction James and his son, George Frederick, extended and improved the house and garden to the fashions of their day. The family had risen to some standing in society but with the decline of the coal industry in the 20th century their fortunes also turned.

As well as being the property of the City Corporation during the 1930s, a police and fire service base during World War II and converted into flats for council staff and their families at a later date, the house has been continually used by the community and as a base for the Friends of Insole Court who have assisted in the restoration and repair of several areas of the house. Following the opening of the Stable Yard facilities next month, an event is currently being planned for next year to reopen the house and get visitors, users and the public back into Insole Court to celebrate the success of the entire project.

“As a business this is what we do and I’m very happy that the Trust and Cardiff City Council are delighted with the work carried out by Andrew Scott,” concluded Mark.

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