Restoration of lead pipes – Lilleshall Hall, Shropshire

Lilleshall Hall, National Sports Centre is a grade 2 listed building, originally built in 1831 as the hunting lodge and family retreat of the Duke of Sutherland. The hall is set in quite spectacular and secluded surroundings and is an award winning National Centre of Excellence for many of the UK’s top sportsmen and women. It caters for many disciplines including Squash, Badminton, Archery, Gymnastics, Football and Hockey.

The lead pipes to the rear of the building have suffered damage and general wear and tear . Having been repaired with plastic and stainless steel over the years, they were long overdue for replacement. The work required the use of traditional materials and techniques employing rarely used skills.

Wiped lead joints are not something you see every day, let alone have to reproduce, so a challenge was set to replace the damaged sections of lead soil pipe, lengths of plastic and stainless steel with lead pipework; we were appointed to remove the existing substandard items and replace with new lead pipe and fittings to match the existing.

The case study shows the processes involved in replacing the lead soil stack, preparing and forming a branch into the lead soil pipe, making a joint between a lead and copper waste pipe and the sympathetic restoration of a hopper head. All of these procedures require the use of ‘old school’ plumbing skills, many of which have never been heard of by most plumbers of today. These methods are not used to carry out repairs to water supply pipework but many historic buildings have lead rainwater and soil pipework; fortunately it lasts for many years and is really only vulnerable to mechanical damage at low level, hence the use of cast iron at ground level up to head height.

We love a challenge and thoroughly enjoy digging out those old skills and putting them to good use especially as in doing so, we’re helping to preserve our heritage.