Soldiers of Gloucester Museum
The former Custom House at Gloucester Docks has been home to the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum since 1980. After receiving a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the museum brought Wessex Restoration on board to renovate the building’s exterior. Specialists in large-scale restoration projects, Wessex was the first choice to bring this Grade-II listed stone building back to the 19th century.
Project: The Custom House, Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, Back Bridge Square, Gloucester Docks, Gloucestershire, GL1 2HE
Client: Ministry of Defence
Main contractor: Acclaim Contracts Ltd
Products & services: Complete renovation of Custom House, including sash window repair, replacement and draught-proofing; restoration of louvered timber glazed roof light.
Custom House Profile
The Custom House was built in 1845 to replace the Old Custom House, which was too small and remote to cope with the amount of trade passing through the Port of Gloucester. Architect Sydney Smirke designed the building, which was completed for a total of £6,700.
For more than a hundred years, customs staff recorded the details of foreign shipments and collected customs duty at the dockside building. After port activity dwindled, the Custom House was used as an administrative centre until the late 1970s.
Now home to the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, the ex-customs building houses memorabilia from the Gloucestershire Regiment (The Glosters) from across its 300-year history. The collections cover the lives of soldiers from Bristol to the Forest of Dean who fought in battles in the American Civil War, the Napoleonic years and the Korean War.
Replica Georgian windows and draught proofing
Wessex was brought in to help restore the colonnaded Custom House to its former glory. As well as repairing existing glazing and timber frames, our team of heritage window specialists also reinstated replica Georgian sliding sash windows.
Unfortunately, during a previous renovation, the building’s original windows had been replaced with modern style windows that were out of keeping with the traditional architecture. We crafted replica Georgian windows with mouldings and profile identical to the originals, glazed with clear drawn glass.
Next to the Custom House you’ll find Painswick stone-fronted offices built for the dock merchants. Wessex helped upgrade the existing sash windows in the offices with a high-performance draught sealing system, which will improve the insulation and energy efficiency of the building, without having to replace the whole window unit or frame.
We also restored a louvered timber glazed roof light, to keep the original architectural timber piece. Many of the building’s timber features were in a poor state of repair, with rotting, flaking and chipped frames or panels. Where possible, we sought to restore, fill and seal wooden features, rather than replacing them.
Joinery services in Gloucestershire
As a Grade II-listed building, Custom House was limited in the style and type of glazing allowed for its exterior. At Wessex, we have more than 20 years’ experience in heritage joinery and we design our products with Building Regulations for listed buildings and conservation areas in mind.