Dominating the three-acre site of Green College, Oxford is the eighteenth-century Radcliffe Observatory. The building functioned as an observatory from 1773 until 1934, when the owners (the Radcliffe Trustees) decided to sell it and to erect a new observatory in Pretoria, South Africa.
Building began in 1772 to plans by the architect Henry Keene, but only the Observer's House is his design. Before his full design could be completed Keene died in 1776. The Observatory was finally completed to a different design by James Wyatt (1746-1813).
MBL worked on both phases of the restoration works with the architects and two main contractors. MBL works included the complete cleaning and restoration of the Greek brass lettering under each “Wind” on the upper part of the Tower.
This phase of the works was commended in the RICS awards of 2006 under the Building Conservation category (www.rics.org/awards). The Judge, Deborah Dance MSc MRICS, Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust, said about the project,
‘This is an outstanding piece of conservation. It has put the building back in the public domain, and is now an instantly recognisable feature of the Oxford skyline, known to all.’
Internal restoration to the original ironmongery and sympathetic repairs were required. The process included pattern making, casting, fettling and finishing new knob covers, which were then fitted to the original knob sets. Replica escutcheon plates were also produced to match the knob sets.
MBL also scheduled and supplied new ironmongery and master keyed systems to meet the needs of the client without detracting from the buildings original style and design.
Each item was carefully selected to ensure a correct specification and aesthetic style for this important historic building, now owned by Green College, Oxford.