Palace of Westminster – Preserving the historic windows


Narrator>>The Palace of Westminster is home
to one of the busiest parliamentary institutions in the world. Thousands of people work here
and visit every day and millions of tourists are drawn to its iconic splendour. Completed
in the mid 1800’s, many of the Palace’s features have never undergone major renovation.
So what being done to tackle any problems, not only to ensure the Palace continues to
function as a working building, but also to preserve its unique heritage for future generations?
In this video we look at the windows of the Palace. There are 3000 windows, from basic
casements in rooms and corridors, to the ornate glass panels that allow light to flood into
the many hallways and chambers. This vast expanse of glass, much of it set in bronze
framework no longer provides effective weather resistance and generates significant heat
loss from the Palace. While a range of measures to reduce CO2 emissions
are being implemented, the Palace’s status as part of a world heritage site and grade
one listed building, means that many energy saving solutions are not appropriate. However
making windows weather tight across the entire Palace will go a significant way towards reducing
heat loss and running costs. Tessa Blundy>>You can see from here the significance
of the windows in these building elevations of the Palace of Westminster, not one of them
actually closes properly. Every single one of these windows needs to be taken out and
overhauled in order that it stops letting heat out of the building and letting the water
in. These windows inevitably have deteriorated over time far more quickly than we can maintain
or repair them. I can feel here the draft coming through the bottoms of the windows,
this is a problem throughout the 3000 windows all over the Palace. If we can overhaul all
of these windows and draft proof them, we will go a very, very long way to reducing
the carbon footprint of the whole Palace. Of course that means saving an awful lot on
heating costs. Every single window needs to be surveyed in
detail by specialist contractors, taken to a workshop, overhauled, some of its components
replaced, brought back and re-fixed into the stonework. Apart from that we have the problems
with access, physically getting to the windows in order to remove them, some of them are
in very sensitive places where we can’t be working during parliamentary sitting times
and so the whole of the programme of window repair will at the current rate take very
many years to complete. If we don’t look after this building, if
we don’t do something about the state of the stonework, the timber, the windows, it
will not be here for future generations, quite apart from the fact it may not be fit for
purpose very soon for the use for which it was designed.
Narrator>>To find out more, please watch the other videos in this series.

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