Built in 1693 by Thomas Macro, the stately Cupola House is one of Bury St Edmunds’s most iconic buildings. It therefore came as a great blow to the town when a kitchen fire almost entirely destroyed the property in June of 2012.
It didn’t take long, however, for work to begin on restoring the Grade 1 listed building to its original glory. The task of rebuilding Cupola House was awarded to Bury-based contractors, Seamans, and following extensive consultations with statutory bodies such as English Heritage, work commenced on 13th January 2014. This began with providing heavily reinforced concrete foundations to the building’s basement, and has been followed by numerous other challenging tasks to strengthen its structure, such as erecting a steel frame (spanning four of the property’s five floors) to be sympathetic to what remained of the original oak frame, and completely dismantling an 11m chimney in order to rebuild it to a height of 22m.
With construction work drawing to a close, and the building set to be handed over to its new tenants, Cupola House has been given a whole new lease on life. But although the renovations carried out by Seamans go a long way to ensuring that more of the building would be left intact should another fire occur in future, they do little to prevent one occurring in the first place. It’s no big surprise that when the building was constructed in the late 17th century fire safety safety measures weren’t exactly what they are today, but as the fire that all but levelled it occurred well into the twentieth century, questions had to be raised as to whether appropriate efforts had been made to ensure the survival of this iconic local landmark. It turned out that this was not the case, as the building did not have a fire sprinkler system installed at the time, which just goes to show that more traditional fire safety measures such as fire extinguishers or fire alarms alone are no guarantee. Although thankfully no one was hurt during the blaze, if the building had been fitted with a working sprinkler system, a lot of time and money would have almost certainly been saved, and it was therefore crucial to make sure that the mistakes of the past were not repeated. This is where we came in.
AES National worked closely in conjunction with Seamans to install an extensive fire sprinkler system throughout Cupola House, in order to bring it in line with current fire safety guidelines and regulations, and to ensure that it will remain standing for centuries to come. Keen to retain as much of the original charm of the building as possible, we also ensured that the system would be as unobtrusive as possible, by painstakingly routing the entirety of the system’s stainless steel pipework within its ceiling and walls, leaving only the small, white ‘cover caps’ visible.
It has been an absolute delight to be part of ensuring the continued longevity of such an iconic piece of history, and we hope that its new tenants can now rest assured that they truly are covered when it comes to fire safety. If you’ve not caught our previous blogs, you can read up further on the many benefits of fire sprinkler systems here, or alternatively you can book a free consultation or demonstration at our head office in Ipswich, Suffolk by getting in touch with our friendly staff – We look forward to hearing from you:
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