Victorian Tiling Company Were Tiling
qest craft scholar for Victorian Tiling

Devonshire Gardens #5

One Devonshire Gardens, known as Hotel du Vin, is a luxury hotel located in the West end of Glasgow. Devonshire Gardens is a B-Listed terrace of five townhouses, constructed in the 1870s. The hotel was opened in 1986 in Number One, although it has since expanded to occupy all five houses, Number Four being the last acquired. The hotel now has forty-nine bedrooms and in 2006 was acquired by the Hotel Du Vin Chain.

It was during the start of last year, when the hotel first contacted us regarding the Mosaics. The hotel was going through a large renovation and refurbishment of public areas and hotel rooms. The floor Mosaic in House 1, in Restaurant areas has always been on display and exposed. But the Floor Mosaics in Houses 2-5 have been under Carpet for around the last 15 years. We went to meet the management team and discuss the possible restoration of the mosaics. We managed to have a small look at the mosaics at the entrance ways but not enough to get a true understanding of what work would be required to restore the floors.

As with many conservation projects of historic floors, they are hidden and then found under carpets, tiles, vinyl, wood or underlay. We are initially invited out to look at potential projects but until the top layer of floor is removed and whatever type of adhesive has been used. We can only make an educated guess as to the state of the floor underneath and the time it will take to restore it. Often with tessellated, tesserae mosaic floors, they are usually found on a more solid mortar beds than geometric floors from the same period. Where the initial Statumen (a bedding of fist sized stones or slabs) lies compressed on top of the ground soil. Rather than a rudus, (a mix of rubble and lime or sand cement) placed on top of floor boards directly placed on top of joists.

This gives the subfloor of Mortar beds much more stability and the capability to be able to absorb and displace much more movement and settlement within the building. Usually at most you will find a structural movement crack travelling through the Mosaic design but it often does not displace, loosen or damage the tiles.

As you can see from the photos, the layers of carpet and adhesive were removed so the cleaning of the Mosaic can begin. After the floor is cleaned we can see clearly what repairs are needed and if the substrate is solid and stable. From this point, we send some of the original tiles away to be matched by our supplier in London. Tracings and drawings of areas of repair are made so we can start cutting and making the mosaics to be installed. With House 3 we had a very large Mosaic to make and install to replace the missing area where the Hearth had originally been with some small repairs around radiator pipes and skirting boards. In House 5, the restoration was more straight forward with only the areas around borders where the carpet grippers had lifted the tiles needed to be replaced.

The restored mosaic floors rightly got a lot of local press attention once they were finished. They are some of the finest mosaic entranceways you will find in Scotland and are especially unique to have been put down in 5 separate but adjoining houses of the same street. The hotel plans to unearth the Mosaics in House 2 and 4 at some point in the near future and some repairs need to be carried out in House 1. We look forward to going back and carrying out the work in one of our favourite historic buildings in Glasgow.