1. Country House, Hexham
This imposing property, built around the turn of the last century, has been occupied by three generations of the same family for the past 100 years. While the first generation of owners were in residence the property was commandeered as an officer’s mess to support the war effort during the Second World War. After the war the property was handed back and the family undertook renovations to return it to being a family home, but little further work took place until the house passed to the current owners who decided that it was time to make the property fit for the current century and commissioned extensive renovations and remodelling, including a complete replacement and upgrade of the plumbing and heating systems.
The property, like so many of a similar age, had a gravity fed cold water system supplied by a nearby spring, with ageing lead pipework and the consequent problems of insufficient water pressure and volume to satisfy modern plumbing systems, noisy and leaking pipework, and outdated bathrooms. The current owner remembers clearly that the toilets all froze during freezing weather, and how long it would take to get hot water to the taps – all of which are now things of the past!
J P Westall Limited undertook the challenge of replacing all of the pipework in the property, installing a system to store and pressurise the cold water supply so as to overcome the problems with flow rate and pressure, refurbishing or replacing radiators, refitting all of the bathrooms and ensuites, installing underfloor heating in the new kitchen extension, and also the installation of an air to air heat pump in order to maintain a constant temperature in the wine cellar. Such major renovations intended to make the property fit for purpose for decades to come meant the family wanted to be able to rely on the quality of the work undertaken – which was a significant factor in deciding to work with Westalls to deliver the work.
Westalls were part of the package supplied by D P Builders and recommended by the family’s Architect too. They had employed Westalls previously for work on estate cottages and, having had problems as a result of using other local plumbers in the past, they knew they would be in safe hands with Westalls.
The family have been thrilled with the work undertaken by both D P & Westalls and commented that it came in ‘on time and under budget’. They also noted that both the materials used and the skills of the staff undertaking the work were ‘to the right quality’ and it was a relief that there were no financial surprises along the way. It was also noted – with a satisfied smile, that there were ‘no more frozen toilets!’ that fuel consumption has reduced while they were also enjoying being much warmer and that the pleasure of instant hot water and high water pressure in the showers was not to be underestimated!
When asked about the after-care service they have received, the family noted that Westalls were straight out to deal with an airlock that occurred shortly after installation and that they were left with an excellent ‘crib sheet’ with all valves clearly numbered and referenced on a valve chart so that they could easily isolate different parts of the system if required.
When asked what they had been most (and least!) impressed with while the work was being carried out. They loved how personable everyone who had come to site had been, and noted the whole thing had been a friendly experience and they didn’t feel that they had to be around to supervise the work all the time – they could trust the team. They also noted that they saw the same faces all the time, which was a stark contrast from their time living in London where tradesmen moved constantly from one company to another – something which is often commented on by Westalls customers – some of whom have been seeing the same faces for over thirty years!
The family are happy to wholeheartedly recommend J P Westall Limited due to the professionalism, quality workmanship, project management and timekeeping they experienced – another successful project for the Westalls team and another happy customer, just what we like to hear! If you have any upcoming projects, large or small, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
2. Mowden Hall School
Mowden Hall is a prestigious private school situated in the Tyne Valley near Corbridge. It provides a first-class education to children from nursery age to year 8, and of its 170 students, 85 are boarders. The property was a stately home until the school relocated here in 1945, having been evacuated from their original site in Darlington during the Second World War.
J P Westall Limited have serviced and maintained the heating system at Mowden Hall for many years, but in 2017 a decision was made to replace the 50-year old boiler in the main building in order to ensure heating provision would be uninterrupted during the following winter, and to enhance the provision of domestic hot water.
The Trust which operates the school selected Westalls to replace the ageing boiler with two new state of the art Viessmann boilers and to improve the efficiency of the heating system by dividing the distribution system into three zones and installing a new control system, with Westalls designing and installing the whole project.
Caretaker Simon said “Westalls have worked here for over 20 years. We have occasionally called in other local plumbing firms but always end up coming back to Westalls as the other companies always ended up leaving us with issues, whereas we have never had any such problems with Westalls.”
When asked if there were any problems or issues during the installation, Simon described the biggest challenge - getting the large new boilers into the boiler room, given the limitations of the old building, including some very steep stairs. He went on to explain how in the face of the challenge, the two lead team members on the delivery phase of the project devised a ramp system and described how they skilfully managed the delivery & siting of the boilers – which resulted in no damage to the building or the boilers.
Simon goes on to explain how successful he believes the project to have been, a notable benefit being the ability to deliver much greater quantities of hot water (very important when you have 80+ children having daily showers!), as this was a problem they used to contend with on a daily basis. He is also over the moon with the reduction in maintenance – the old system requiring daily attention from him to keep it performing adequately. Finally, he commented on how smoothly the project ran, ‘considering how big a job it was’, how delighted he has been by the results, and how smart and organised the new plant room looks.
Oil consumption for the school has reduced significantly – Simon reports savings of around 27%, and this is in addition to the school being noticeably warmer and now having more than enough hot water to keep everyone happy! Simon recommends Westalls to anyone who asks (both domestic and commercial) and is firm in his view that he would do so time and time again.
Another successful project for the J P Westall team and a happy customer, just what we like to hear! If you have any upcoming projects, large or small, don’t hesitate to get in touch.