An uplifting project tucked in amongst the architecture of Oxford city centre

An uplifting project tucked in amongst the architecture of our suddenly silent city.

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Last February, Barr Joinery were proud to deliver a full joinery and cabinetry set for the Hertford’s 19th Century porters lodge.

The client-led cabinetry concept was the brainchild of Andrew Beaumont, Hertford’s Estates Project Manager. Centred around two striking curved reception desks, the cabinetry project also included a thirty drawer vertical sliding key cupboard, bespoke bench seat, extensive pigeon hole units and a fitted buttery. Each solid oak and oak veneer piece was then finished on-site by specialist French polisher Martin Harbord.

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Barr Joinery also stepped in to manufacture and fit made to measure joinery pieces for the lodge, including windows, doors and surrounding panelling, all designed to align with or match to originals. Traditional solid oak flush casement windows were fitted with hand-drawn ‘Goetheglas’ to achieve an irregular heritage surface and varnished internally to match the surrounding cabinetry and panelling.

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Production drawings at BarrJoinery took on a whole new dimensional challenge and some unusual bonding and clamping techniques became the workshop norm! Sam Kerwin, Barr Joinery Project Manager says “We are used to producing very exacting lines, but exacting curves in three dimensions is less standard. It was a great challenge for my grey matter and for the cabinetry team!”

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Famously recognisable as ‘the college with the bridge’, Hertford’s foremost building, encompassing the lodge, hall and spiral staircase, was designed by the prolific Oxford architect T. G. Jackson and built-in 1887-9. The lodge itself was adapted in the latter 20th Century for functionality rather than aesthetics, and as such had become something of a ‘bafflement’ of false ceilings, unmatched fenestration and functional furnishings. The project saw a whole host of unsympathetic 20th Century additions swept away to create a large and welcoming space, which now harbours a distinctive modern character all of its own, whilst respecting the heritage of the Grade II* listed building.

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Last month the Hertford College Principal, Will Hutton, cut the ceremonial ribbon at an opening ceremony attended by students, staff and fellows, who were then invited to step over the threshold (marked with fetching new stag-themed doormats) and apparently the new lodge was met with great approval.

Currently, the college is operating virtually, by means of a remarkable online tutorial platform. The porter's lodge waits in quiet anticipation for the hustle and bustle of students, professors, fellows, post-grads and visitors to return. We hope that soon pigeon holes and corridors alike will be filled with the energy of keen minds and bustling bodies.

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