Brighton College terra cotta tower completed

MBH PLC’s Hathern Terra Cotta brand is the UK’s leading manufacturer of traditional hand pressed architectural terra cotta and faience, with a highly skilful team and unsurpassed customer service. Due to its accomplished craftsmen and unrivalled reputation, HTC were selected to accurately re-create over 1650 individual handmade pieces for Brighton College, complementing the site’s previous designs by the highly acclaimed Sir George Gilbert Scott and Sir Thomas Graham Jackson’s design in 1887. The original plans for the front façade included an impressive Tudor style, central bell tower which was never completed due to lack of funding, left as a truncated stub.

Virtus Contracts Ltd were appointed as Main Contractor, working in conjunction with Richard Griffiths Architects, who were tasked to orchestrate and re-create the bespoke tower to match the infamous original 19th century designs.

David Maddocks, Business Development Manager at Hathern Terra Cotta, commented: “We are very proud to be involved with this beautiful piece of architectural heritage. It is constructed of moulded terracotta on a brick core by our specialised team at Hathern Terra Cotta, surmounted by a 10 metre high cupola and turret. The comprehensive list of handmade units included decorative pilasters, window, clock and sundial surrounds, fielded panels, castellation copings, turret units, a bay window, coat of arms and Latin inscription panel. This variety of architectural terra cotta is testament to the artistic talent of our craftsmen.”

Jorge Moreira from Richard Griffiths Architects, said: “The brief involved looking in detail at the treatment of each element, including the tower’s design, its structure and the most appropriate materials. To be consistent with the tower’s original solid masonry walls, with the new additions of solid construction. The tower’s unembellished east and west walls were completed in solid brick, of three bricks thick and the richly decorated north and south walls combine window openings including flint, brick, lead and terracotta.

“The most challenging aspect of the project was how to address the design of the new addition in a contemporary idiom, sympathetic to the existing building whilst blending it in seamlessly. The sensitive choice of matching materials played a critical role in this, particularly the terracotta, the most prominent element at all levels and which is extensively used on the south and north facades. The existing highly ornate terracotta was of variable quality and particularly poor and degraded on the south façade. Many repairs were needed, several with new intricate mouldings most notably the college coat-of-arms which was replaced in its entirety. The terracotta for the new addition had to match the feel of the existing, making sure not to discord with its colouring, texture and variations in weathering. MBH PLC accomplished this task with great craftsmanship and sensitivity.

“Instead of leaded lights, as on the existing first floor, all new windows are contained in bronze casements of slender frame with unleaded and undivided lights and are set into a terracotta frame, refreshingly, assembled traditionally using the material’s qualities and without resort to metal lintels.

“The completed tower has been received with great acclaim and very quickly has been adopted as the symbol of the College featuring extensively on promotional literature, events, etc. The tower finally gives the College an entrance befitting its stature.”