High tech insulation breathes new life into landmark seafront building

A former hotel on Morecambe’s wind-swept seafront has been restored and re-purposed with the help of high-performance insulation from Icynene.

The Victorian coastal resorts of the North West have had a fairly difficult time in recent years. The boom in fly-away package holidays in the sixties and seventies led to a rapid decline in visitor numbers and a steady fall from the graceful elegance they once enjoyed.

Blackpool soldiers on with its candy floss and kiss-me-quick hats, still drawing day trippers eager to experience the famous lights and beach side attractions.

Blackpool’s rather more genteel sister resort of Morecambe followed a different route and now hopes to see a renaissance of fortune with the coming of a major new attraction – the Eden Project North – to the towns famous Bay.

Modelled on the hugely successful Eden Project in Cornwall, Morecambe’s long waited new development hopes to become an important go-to attraction, bringing back much needed tourist revenue to the area.

In anticipation of the expected increase in visitor numbers, some of Morecambe’s famous landmark buildings are also experiencing their own change in fortune with restoration and re-purposing at the heart of the town’s rebirth.

Re-charging The Battery

One of these is the imposing Battery Hotel, dating back to the 1900 and built within pebble-skimming distance of the sea by the Thwaites Brewery Company.

Ian Bond, owner of the Battery takes up the story. “I was born in the area and have a love of Morecambe and a passion for restoring old buildings. The Battery has one of the best locations in the town with views over the Bay to the Lake District Fells, so when it came up for sale, I was at the head of the queue”

Ian bought the Battery in early 2014 and is close to completing a painstaking restoration and conversion into high-end, serviced holiday apartments. The exposed location however, brought with it restoration challenges as well as development opportunities.

He continues “The Battery faces right into the wind and weather coming off the Irish Sea, so when we set about the reconstruction, insulation and air tightness of the structure were a top priority.”

High-performance insulation

Insulation specialists Heatlok Installations Ltd were brought in at an early stage to advise. Heatlok’s Greg Raby explains. “Old buildings like these are notoriously difficult to insulate with conventional materials. Air leakage is also a huge problem as so much heat loss in a building can be put down to bad construction detailing, which can lead to gaps and air leakage – draughts to you and me.”

For the Battery project, Heatlok recommended FoamLite, a high-performance spray applied insulation system from Icynene.

Icynene FoamLite is applied as a two component mixture that comes together at the tip of a gun forming a foam that expands 100-fold within seconds, sealing all gaps, service holes and hard to reach spaces, virtually eliminating cold bridging and air leakage.

It was developed in Canada to cope with their extreme weather conditions but, unlike urethane foams of 20 years ago, Foam Lite uses water as the blowing agent. The reaction between the two components produces C02 which causes the foam to expand.

As it expands the cells of the foam burst and the CO2 is replaced by air, creating an open cell, “breathable” structure with outstanding insulation properties. From an environmental perspective, Icynene claims a Global Warming Potential of 1 and an Ozone Depletion Potential of 0. Nor does Icynene emit and harmful gases once cured.

Near Passivhaus standards of air tightness

Ian Bond’s enthusiasm for the project is clear. “We’ve gone for energy efficiency and minimal carbon emissions in every aspect of the restoration. Our aim is to get to near Passivhaus standards of insulation and air tightness. We’ve incorporated solar panels, air sourced heat pump technology for underfloor and water heating and each of the seventeen apartments is connected to an automated mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system. Energy consumption should be very low.”

Icynene FoamLite has been applied throughout the building. External walls have been internally lined with timber studwork and insulated to a thickness of 100mm and faced with 50mm thick foam backed plasterboard [FBP]. The roof structure was sprayed to a thickness of 150mm and similarly faced with 50mm FBP.

The year-long restoration has been approached with great sensitivity. Period internal features have been retained and original materials reclaimed and re-used wherever possible. Externally, the cream Yorkstone walls have been cleaned and re-pointed and the original rainwater goods and iron-work bead-blasted and powder coated before re-fitting.

The Battery is due to be completed shortly, after which Ian Bond will turn his attention to two further classic buildings on Morecambe seafront. “The Battery project has taught us a lot about the restoration and re-purposing of historically important buildings” commented Ian. “We have a rich architectural heritage in the North West and it’s great to see these proud buildings find a new productive purpose, over 100 years since they were built.”

For more information on Icynene Spray applied insulation: www.icynene.co.uk