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The Orangery, Margam Park

Margam Park, South Wales

With its wonderful setting, monastic ruins and gothic style mansion house, the Orangery in Margam is one of the most prestigious establishments in South Wales. Built between 1787 and 1793, the Orangery is the longest building of its kind in Britain at around 100 metres long. Built to house a large collection of orange, lemon and citrus trees, it was requisitioned for the military and occupied by Americans troops during World War II.

However, it was in much need of extensive restoration when we were awarded the contract in 1975. The internal stone paving slabs had been covered with tarmac; large lead gutters had mostly been stolen, which caused considerable water damage; scaffolding was put in place the length of the building to support the roof as all the large hardwood trusses were rotten.

The two-year restoration process was thorough: new steel trusses were used instead of the original timber trusses; existing roof slates were replaced with hand-trimmed slates from Blaenau Ffestiniog; considerable lead work was carried out to the roof and trough gutter; all the ceilings were renewed, walls re-plastered and a ventilation system installed in the roof space.

The new Orangery floor -an area which was to contain orange trees- was part hardwood and part stone-paved, separated by a large, full-height glass screen with opening sliding doors in the middle. Existing windows were renewed and glazed with imported French glass. New extensions were also constructed to the rear to provide kitchen, bar and toilet facilities.

In June 1977, the Queen visited the Orangery as part of the Silver Jubilee. Our efforts were also recognised in 1985 by Europa Nostra -an international conservation federation- who awarded the West Glamorgan County Council a Diploma of Merit for the restoration project. The award signified the Orangery's distinguished contribution to the conservation and enhancement of Europe's architectural and natural history.