Dating back to 1889 the building originally housed the Darley Dale Hydropathic Establishment prior to becoming St Elphins School in 1904.
The school closed in 2005 and the buildings became derelict before being acquired by Audley for redevelopment into a retirement village. Having lain dormant for some time the buildings including the stone elevations were in poor condition. In addition some alterations had been made to the building over the years that were not in keeping with the original facades and included a rather crude block work stair enclosure.
The Architects designed a scheme to carefully restore the original building altering many window and door openings to suit the buildings new use and extending the building to house a leisure centre and recreate the first floor of the Orangery. The extensions and modifications all entailed the use of Derbyshire grit stone to match the original building. The recreation of the first floor of the Orangery entailed quite an elaborate balustrade.
Aura secured the contract to carry out all of the restoration work including the stonework to the new extensions. Initially Aura worked closely with the client to establish a philosophy on the extent and methodology of cleaning and repairs and use of appropriate materials.
The stonework was sympathetically cleaned by a combination of Doff and mild chemical cleaning after trials were undertaken to ascertain the possible results with damaging the stone. Re-pointing was carried out in a NHL mortar and similarly in-situ repairs to small losses in an NHL based repair mortar.
Defective sections of stone were carefully cut out and replaced to match the original detail as near as possible. New stone was provided to alter the facades creating new openings that are completely unobtrusive in the finished facades.
Aura developed the Architects drawings into detailed elevations and production drawings for all areas of new stone work including the incorporation of restraint and support fixings.
Quite large extensions were added to the original structure the largest housing a leisure club and swimming pool.
The stone has been traditionally fixed and the old and new now blend in to produce an impressive finish to the building. A final part of Aura’s involvement in the scheme was the restoration of the stonework to the walls and features surrounding the restored and extended building.
A croquet lawn was re-instated and the feature walls and staircases were carefully taken down, re-built and restored. Throughout the development there were many stone ramps, staircases and piers installed to complete the very impressive restoration of the site.
St Elphins Park now displays the sensitive restoration blending in with the new build stonework.