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Music Department – 48-50 North Bailey


Durham University


Client – Durham University

Architect – Howarth Litchfield Partnership

Completion – May 2013

Value - £1,500,000

48-50 North Bailey were originally occupied by the law department at Durham University. The buildings are all within the World Heritage site perimeter and themselves Grade II listed. The stone built No 50 is of significant interest and presence as it occupies the corner of the main gateway to the palace green (cathedral, castle, world heritage centre and library).


48 North Bailey (former Post Office)
Built as a house in the early 18th. Century and the ground floor turned into a shop in the late 19th. Century.

49 North Bailey
Originally built as 2 houses in the early 19th. Century, this Flemish bonded brick building was merged together by Durham University to form the law department many years ago.

50 North Bailey
The building is in the form of two storeys with varying levels from the main building to the formed Moot Hall and rooms located off Owengate. The external fabric includes coursed squared sandstone with ashlar dressings; Welsh slate pitched roofs, ornate stone framed windows with metal thin bar framing and opening casements


The Works

The works included the renewal of the existing heating, hot/cold water and electrical systems which in turn requires full refurbishment of the building’s interior. Due to the buildings new use we had to carry out significant changes and modifications to improve the sound proofing between rooms and acoustics within the rooms. This involved major works to the upper floor construction. Once the works commenced the structural stability of parts of the building were found to be significantly worse than the engineers had expected so we also had to incorporate structural repair and strengthening works to ensure the longevity of the buildings. Externally we carried out window repairs, sections of the roof were renewed and some areas of brickwork & stone were repointed.

The works were carried out in a delicate and considered manner and many hidden features such as the previously plastered over stone door surrounds were uncovered and exposed. In other areas the ceilings were removed and previously hidden vaulted ceilings were repaired and left exposed for everyone to see and appreciate. During the works we worked closely with the design teams and the client to overcome unforeseen problems, including structural repairs and strengthening and works to the external facade works to help preserve the buildings for future generations.

 Part of the ground floor of the building was leased to a live restaurant, so our works had to be carefully planned and co-ordinated to ensure that their business was not affected by our works.

The building was successfully completed to the delight of the client and end users. The building was shortlisted in the regional finals of the RICS Awards and was been shortlisted to the National Final in 2 categories of the NFB Awards.