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David Gunton's Hardwood Floors.
Grange Lane, Winsford,
Cheshire, CW7 2PS
Tel: +44 (0)1606 861 442
Fax: +44 (0)1606 861 445
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  • Windsor Castle

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    This is an old photo of the Crimson Drawing Room at Windsor Castle before the fire. Along with this room's decorative marquetry / parquet, the decorative parquet in the Green Drawing Room and the parquet panels and boards in the Grand Reception Room, David Gunton and his team of craftsmen recreated and / or restored all these after the great fire.

    The walls are made almost like the studding walls were are all familiar with today. Behind what you see from inside the room are the immense stone and brickwork walls. Fixed to them are stout and thick wooden battens which support the wooden panelling. Thus there is substantial gap between the back side of the panelling and the solid walls. The face of the wooden panelling is effectively plastered with a chalk based 'plaster' to whch the paint or gilding is added. This surface finish is very fire resistant - but the back of the panelling is 'dry as tinder' and will burn very readily. So, once the fire found its way into the void behind the panelling, there was no stopping it, especially since the walls were pierced with great holes from room to room to allow the passage of service elements like hot water pipes and electricity cables. The fire used these holes like chimneys.

     

     

     

    This is what we started with! The floor in this room was burned around the edges but otherwise it was effectively boiled for very many hours as the fire burned and the firemen poured 1.5 million gallons of water into the building.

    As you can see, the decorative elements are very thin - between 2 and 3 millimetres thick. Why? Because, in order to create the pattern accurately with furniture grade joints, the repeat elements, particularly those circular pieces, had to be extremely precisely cut to a dimensional exactitude not possible with thicker timber. The thickest timber that could be cut accurately by shaped knives embedded into a former was 3 mm. Thicker than that caused tearing of the face and the back of the timber. The way the elements were made was to pass the veneers through a machine something like a mangle but with the shaped blades embeded within the top roller. Similarly, the elements which made up the Greek Key pattern were stamped out, rather than cut out. This was evidence by the faintly crushed grain on the underside of the elements.

    From these remains David Gunton had to identify the original woods used, make detailed measurements to enable redrawing and then recreation of the pattern exactly as made originally in 1854.

     

     

    This picture on the right shows the difficulties the original makers experienced. The floor was made off-site in a workshop.The 2 to 3mm thick veneer was applied to Honduras mahogany carpentary panels which were intended to join together very accurately on site. The makers encountered a problem that would beset us even today if we were obliged to carry out the same method of remaking the floor. Probably because the panels changed moisture content between manufacture and fitting and so changed shape, when they came to be fitted they would not close and line up properly. The Greek key pattern was at least half an inch out of straight in the middle of the length of the floor. The carpenters had to cut the veneers off the panels and refit them all by hand on site. They used a brace and bit in order not damage other areas of the veneer work by accident. You can see the evidence if you look carefully a the blow up picture. It must have been a nightmare of a job, but they persisted and made a fine job of the finished floor. One has to remember that in the 1850's this was a completely novel and groundbreaking piece of work, particularly in the UK. It is not easy to do today, even with the sophisticated machinery available to us.

     

    If you would like to see other pictures of the damaged room and read more about how we carried out the recreation, please click here.