Conservation & Restoration Highly Commended 2005
Client/Owner: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Architect: Donald Insall Associates
Structural Engineer: The Morton Partnership
Main Contractor/Builder: Linford Bridgeman
Joinery: Linford Joinery
Wood Species: European Oak
English Heritage describes the Staircase House as ‘one of the most complex restoration and conservation schemes of recent times’. Once a 15th century merchant’s town house, it is now an educational museum.
The original cruck frame hall was built in 1460 and throughout the centuries major additions have taken place, including rebuilding around the original structure in the 17th and 19th centuries. After WWII it was earmarked for demolition but survived and Stockport council undertook its repair and restoration. A severe fire in 1995 almost halted the process, badly damaging the building fabric and almost destroying the 17th century spiral newel staircase which gave the house its name.
Dendrochronological work was commissioned to date the structure and its historical and educational value became one of the key features of the project. Seventeenth century panelling was restored, and each window frame and door treated individually because nearly every one was of a different era, from medieval to Victorian, Where possible the architects maintained the original fabric. Elsewhere fragments or layers of structure were revealed for their historical value, encased in glass if they were fragile. The judges describe the extent of the work as heroic.