Back in January we told you about the latest restoration project happening at Bowcliffe, the transformation of the original Drawing Room into a beautiful Ballroom. Well, it’s with delight that we’re able to share the completed project with you – and it’s even more spectacular than we could have imagined.
With specialist tradesmen, a ceiling gilded with 23.5-carat gold and a sensational multi-functional bar, we spoke to Bayford & Co CEO and Bowcliffe Hall owner, Jonathan Turner, about his adoration for the newly-renovated room, his favourite parts of the project – plus what his father would have thought had he been here today…
Length of time the restoration took from start to finish?
When we set off on the over all restoration of the Hall, the Ballroom was always on the agenda, but it’s taken me two years going backwards and forwards to various other buildings of interest across the country and the Chelsea Design Centre but actual hard graft work began on 28th March and it has been a 12-week programme.
Can you tell us a little more about the specific work undertaken?
Every single thing has been restored, replaced or repaired. The old computer room was removed entirely. Many people may not know that it is not long since the room was a combination of an office for our Head of Finance, the accounts office for our oil business and our IT room! We’ve restored the cornicing and ceiling detail (which had previously been damaged by service runs, building works and water ingress), a dancefloor has been laid, an incredible new art deco bar has been installed and full redecoration has been carried out – lights, carpets, mirrors, and new server bar – the lot!
Were any specialist tradesmen needed to complete the project?
Yes, David Brown whom I worked with on the Drivers Club was integral to the project. We also had Hesp Jones and Co from York who are specialists in decoration restoration – they gilded the ceiling roses with 23.5-carat gold. CSJ Bespoke Plaster Mouldings Ltd were commissioned to replace the damaged ceiling rosettes and missing leaf ends. They removed large sections of cornicing ceiling panels and ceiling to replace with new to match the original designs. All the teams did a superb job.
You’ve become famous for investing in the ‘Yorkshire pound’ – how much of the labour/materials were sourced from the Yorkshire region?
We’re thrilled that around 80% of the labour and materials were from Yorkshire.
What proved to be the trickiest parts of the project?
Good question, the sound system was fairy tricky, as we didn’t want to be able to see any of the speakers. We worked with a great company called Urban Integration who also did the sound systems on the Blackburn Wing and Drivers’ Club. They figured out a solution to put the speakers behind the wallpaper! It is true that you get what you pay for; they’re awesome and completely invisible.
Did anything crop up as the project progressed which held it up or presented an opportunity?
The room was originally three individual offices. As the partitions were removed the heating pipes were found to have been built into the partition walls. This meant that once we had created one space the heating pipes were in the middle of the room – it meant a slight rethink! Apart from that everything went smoothly, we did have a little wobble with the dance floor as David presented us with a great technical opportunity which we eventually decided against in order to retain the traditional feel.
Were any traditional materials or techniques used to retain the Ballroom’s original look and feel?
Yes. 23.5-carat gold on the ceiling. Exclusive hand blocked wallpaper. It is important to note that it was originally the Drawing Room. We didn’t have a need for one so that’s why it’s the Ballroom now.
The wallpaper is sublime – tell us about it…
It’s Watts hand-blocked wallpaper. Pear Clytha Turquoise to be precise. We wanted something exclusive that wouldn’t be seen anywhere else. Susie Cookson (who I worked with on the restoration of the hallway) recommended that we went to see it. We had found some similar options but upon seeing it I knew it fitted my request for opulence down to a tee.
Tell us about the key features of the new Ballroom…
We don’t know exactly what the customers are going to use the room for and so needed it to be multi-functional. I wanted a bar (my wife and I had great fun searching around many high end London bars, including The Savoy and Claridge’s for inspiration) but wasn’t sure if the room could take one as it clearly didn’t have one originally. I am a traditionalist at heart. Working with David Brown is always good fun and rewarding. We were able to communicate what we wanted and he came up with exactly that, a bar that can also transform into a serving table if needs be. The room can now be whatever anyone wants it to be. I’ve always wanted a room with a chandelier. A proper one. They are not easy to find nor decide upon – I’m sure you’ll agree the one we eventually installed is absolutely spectacular.
The flooring is beautiful, what is it made from?
Oak. The colour was key as was the quality. We never compromise on quality at Bowcliffe. We also had a dance floor installed and a carpeted area made to fit around it.
Any surprising finds along the way?
Patience! Lucinda (Jennings, Bowcliffe’s Property and Development Director) had to manage the project from day-to-day due to my other business commitments. It wasn’t easy for her having to work out what was in my head because I’d forgotten to tell her something – we managed not to fall out which is testament to her patience!
Any other comments to make on the project?
We should mention the patience and generosity of the tenants, especially John Tilbrook and team who are based above the ballroom and were most affected by the disruption.
We have worked with some wonderful people who have worked wonders with the timescale we gave them. It has been a genuine team effort with a lot of players never having worked together before. They’ve produced something else at Bowcliffe to be truly proud of.
In your opinion, has the room been restored to its former glory?
It looks almost like I thought it would look though a little beyond that. I had tears in my eyes when everyone had finally left and I sat down and had a moment to see what they had done. I have no doubt we have exceeded its former glory. As we didn’t have a reference for the room as a ballroom, it was down to our vision to create something exceptional that was also in keeping with he rest of the Hall.
What sort of events is it perfect for?
Absolutely anything people want to use it for, whether that’s personal or corporate events – we have a marriage license for the room. I really wish my Father could see it. His reaction to the cost would have been an event in itself!
To book an event in the beautiful Ballroom, simply contact the events team on firstname.lastname@example.org