Case Study 1 Douro | Christchurch | Cleeve Hill


Douro Lodge, Cheltenham

The restoration and conversion of a large Regency building from bedsitting rooms to luxury two-bedroom apartments.

Douro Lodge is one of four Regency villas built by renowned architects, R.W. & C. Douro Lodge - completedJearrad, between 1832 and 1835. Douro Lodge takes its name from an Iberian river encountered by the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War against Napoleon. Standing in contrast to John Papworth's celebrated Lansdown Crescent opposite, the exterior displays italianate influences reminiscent of this continental heritage, as well as impressive classical elevations reflecting Cheltenham's development in this period.

Just short of 6,000 square feet, including a central stairway and, typical for the period, the below-ground floor or basement, the building would have situated the four principle bedrooms on the first floor, each with two dressing rooms, and six servant quarters on the top floor. On the ground floor was featured the dining room and ante-room on the right of the hallway, and the living and with-drawing rooms, divided by double doors, to the left of the central hallway. The interior decorations included ornate cornices, elaborate ceiling roses, wrought-iron ballusters, and robust doors, architraves and skirtings, ornamental glass lights and tall, sliding sash windows.

The grandeur of Douro Lodge naturally diminished over the years as it was gradually converted into bed-sits accommodating fifteen to twenty such rooms, with three of the grandest rooms divided with flimsy partitions. Suffering from poor quality conversions, inadequate heating and minimal maintenence, the building soon showed signs of distress, dry rot and dampness.

The Building Exterior

Druoro Lodge - works in progressThe general restoration, maintenance and upgrading of the building involved the complete replacement of the roof coverings, using steel supports where necessary; the replacement of all perished brickwork; the replacement of timber lintels to many of the windows; rebuilding and replacing sash windows to the original style; substantial re-plastering, including cornice replacement; and painting to all elevations and ironwork.

The Building Interior

Within the building, eight self-contained flats were created, one on either side of the hallway, on all four floors, each with living room/dining, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms.

Dry rot to sash windowhand-crafted new sash window

Dry rot eradication was carried out to the entire left hand side of the building and also to the rear three-storey wing. On the second floor, two sliding sash windows which were affected by dry rot were replaced with new, crafted by local joiners to the original design, as were the grand arched porch windows.


Druro Lodge basement renovationIn the basement, damp proofing work involved tanking, sulphate resistant sand and cement render, plus the application of two coats of Thoroseal waterproof membrane, rendered and set to a very high specification. In 80% of the walls, a physical damp proof course was cut in, cuttng brickwork away in stages and filling in a hy-load damp proof membrane of rubber polymer, impregnable by damp.

On the top floor, an opening was formed between the rooms, putting in cranked steel beams to support the roof in place of the original timber trusses which were retained and exposed, in keeping with contemporary tastes.

Soundproofing was carried out with a fire-resistant foam and three-quarter inch thick waterproof, tongue-and-grooved board flooring.

The central stairway was totally refurbished to the original style. Non-original door openings were removed and dado rails to the hall were replaced.

The cast iron wrought ballusters to the staircase were re-cast at a local foundry and replaced where they had been severely vandalised, with many broken or missing.

The interior decorations included the repair and replacement of the ornate

cornices and elaborate ceiling roses which were damaged, overpainted and missing in places due to room divisions from earlier conversions

Robust doors, architraves and skirtings were restored to the original equivalents, where they had been removed or replaced with flimsy alternatives and ornamental glass lights and tall sliding sash windows were restored to their former glory.

Thomas Holding Ltd received a Civic Award for this project.


Case Study 2 Douro | Christchurch | Cleeve Hill


Christchurch, Cheltenham

We are currently completing Phase 3, after successfuly undertaking Phases 1 & 2 in the building of annexes linking the church to spaces for administration and community activities and the construction of a new church hall and pre-school hall.

Christchurch, Cheltenham

The exterior of the church is a soaring Gothic design, possibly modelled on the tower of Magdalen College, Oxford and the building is listed grade II*.

Consecratated in 1840, the church was designed by the Jerrard Brothers to be a landmark amongst the Regency buildings which were springing up rapidly in the surrounding Lansdown Estate in the highly fashionable and fast developing spa town of Cheltenham.

Project Aim:

To provide enhanced facilities for both the congregation and local users on a very confined site alongside this magnificent church of Christchurch.
Details of the ambitious £800,00 project are described below:


Whilst the church itself is splendid and was in good condition, its entrances, church hall, parish office and WC's were woefully inadequate, inflexible and inconvenient for current and perceived future needs.

Old church hall at ChristchurchThe original church hall was also in poor structural condition with inadequate foundations, spalling and leaning stonework and a spreading roof and was separated from the church by a draughty and unattractive open passageway.

The whole complex is well used both on Sundays and throughout the week and houses a thriving playgroup. The church is used by several local schools for their larger services and for concerts such as the prestigious Cheltenham Music Festival as well as by the town for major civic services.

Works undertaken by Thomas Holding Ltd

Phase One (completed 1999)

" The first stage consisted of a series of enabling works to provide alternative accommodation for the parish office, choir vestry, WC's and playgroup to allow these areas to be released to the main contractor. The majority of the enabling work was carried out by a small but enthusiastic team of parishioners. remodelled porch ceiling at Christchurch

Competitive tenders for the First Phase of the main redevelopment were obtained in March 1999 and Thomas Holding Ltd was appointed to carry out the work under the JCT Intermediate form of contract.

This involved enlarging the entrance doors into the church, to eliminate a serious bottleneck, and upgrading the south porch to provide a much more warm and welcoming atmosphere. As part of this, the porch ceiling was remodelled to reflect the beamed ceiling in the nave of the church and to incorporate a splendid 32 light chandelier.

Also during this phase, the adjoining vestry area was completely gutted and refitted to provide an enlarged parish office, a small meeting room and better WC's for both men and women. This phase was completed in October 1999.

Phase Two (completed 2000)

During the middle of 1999, a price was negotiated with Thomas Holding Limited to follow on to the Second Phase.

This consisted of the demolition of the 1950's extension to the rear of the old school house and the construction of a new multi purpose hall of approximately 120 m2, together with a new properly equipped kitchen and a large table and chair store.

New Church Hall built on the site of the previous smaller old hallThe kitchen and stores are located between the new and old halls in order to serve both buildings.

The external space between the church and new hall has been attractively hard landscaped to provide an outdoor play area and courtyard for use in good weather. This phase was completed at a cost of approximately £240,000 and was opened by the Bishop of Gloucester, David Bentley on 8 October 2000."

Church Building, December 2000: (Christopher Mullen, The Falcon Partnership)

Phase Three

The third and final phase of the work, almost completed, has extensively redeveloped the old school hall while retaining and restoring, and rebuilding its front elevation.

Carriages in new hall at ChristchurchNew hallway at Christchurch

New music room at ChristchurchNew music room at Christchurch

The building was in very poor structural condition with inadequate foundations, spalling stonework and a spreading roof due to a structurally insufficient truss design and has required extensive reconstruction.

Doorway in progress at ChristchurchNew window to hall at ChristchurchNew roof under construction at Christchurch

A roof over the open area remaining has also been constructed, between the present buildings in order to link them all together into a single complex and to provide a large foyer space which will provide covered access directly to the main body of the church, the parish office, w.c's and the meeting room.

Christchurch side view New roof top at Christchurch

The foyer now has a glass vaulted roof to retain the spectacular views of the magnificent church tower, which is floodlit after dark.

The Architects - The Falconer Parnership

The Falconer Partnership, of Stroud, was selected to prepare proposals in early 1996, to address the problems of upgrading the facilities at Christchurch to provide an enhanced and integrated complex, which would be much less intimidating, more flexible and user friendly for both the congregation and the surrounding community.

The Falconer Partnership had a difficult and pivotal role, especially as the project architect, Christopher Mullen, was a member of the congregation, who had previously served a three year term as Church Warden.

Following detailed discussions with the Church's Development Committee, The Falconer Partnership produced an overall development plan which was split into three phases. This enabled the church to use most of its facilities during re-development and also fitted in with the important task of fund-raising to meet the costs.


Case Study 3 Douro | Christchurch | Cleeve Hill


Detached house, Cleeve Hill

A speculative development.

In the summer of 2000, Thomas Holding Ltd bought a distressed 1930's detached house which had magnificent views over Cheltenham. The plan was to replace the defective building with an executive class five-bedroomed residence.

The completed houseThe original house had a history of structural defects and had been monitored for 10 years by structural geologist Mark Cunningham of Geotech, who deemed the house unsafe.

The 1/3 acre hillside site, situated in a pleasant residential area next to common land, called for the replacement to be an individually designed, large family house to sit comfortably in the historic surrounding countryside.

concrete being pumped into deep foundation

The challenge for the new house would start in the ground as Mr Cunningham worked with structural engineer Peter Goodhind of Peter Goodhind and Associates Ltd, to overcome a difficult ground condition of a clay slip-plane, which had caused the original house to move. It was clear that much of the construction costs would be hidden below ground level early in the project's life.

Shuttered concrete with reinforcing cage


Mark Cunningham, Peter Goodhind and Tom Holding devised a system whereby the house would stand on a ring beam supported by three walls of reinforced concrete perpendicular to the direction of ground movement. These would be seven metres deep and would sit on the stable bed-rock below.

The removal of this extraordinary volume of soil from this restrictive site with its narrow access had to be orchestrated in quick succession with the arrival of an equal volume of concrete and reinforcement - as unsupported trenches of this depth can become unstable and collapse within hours.

ground level ring beams

When the required depth was skilfully dug by the machine operator, the slip plane's depth was confirmed by Mr Cunningham and the steel reinforcement cages were lowered in for the concrete to pumped by one of a few of the country's only long reach concrete pumps. When the perpendicular walls were successfully installed, the ring beam was shuttered and the reinforcing tied. Once concreted, the foundations were ready for the building above ground to start.

roofing stage from front elevation
The architect Ralph Guilor devised a clever layout for the sloping site. He centred the house about a central open stair, which brings light from large skylights down the three floors. The building is staggered up the slope so that there is a flight of stairs between each floor. The most important living spaces are excellently positioned on the first floor - there is a green oak balcony, living room and master bedroom with large full height windows overlooking Cheltenham and the surrounding hills.

The house was devised and project managed by Thomas Holding who co- ordinated the many different professions and crafts in the realisation of this individual and special property.

Cleeve Hill rear elevationCleeve Hill front elevation







Many diverse new technologies have been used in this project, such as in its innovative foundations, modern insulation and heating. All of this has been achieved within the significant constraints of the site and planning regulations. It is now a warm modern family house of character.