Bloom returns to Square Church rose window

The Square Church rose window is being painstakingly repaired as part of Calderdale Council’s new Central Library and Archive building in Halifax, West Yorkshire. 

The Square Church first opened in 1857 but closed in 1969 after congregations dwindled.  Disaster struck in 1971 when the roof and interior were destroyed by fire.  Most of the remaining building was demolished in 1976, however the rose window, tower and spire survive and have a Grade II* listing.  

Leader of Calderdale Council, Cllr Tim Swift said: 

“The rose window will be one of the most beautiful features of the new Central Library and I’m delighted that it is now being restored and given a new lease of life.   

“For many years the ruins of the church were a very poignant landmark, representing as they did, a building which had once been at the heart of the local community.  Now this role is being restored.  The rose window, the tower and the spire will be the most dramatic elements of the new library, and I anticipate that it will once again become a much loved building for the people of Halifax.”

The window is a combination of Portland stone from Dorset and French Caen stone. When the restoration work began, the stone was in poor condition, having been extensively damaged by the weather.  Some was corroded, pieces were missing and some of the pattern had become misaligned.  The leading and glass also needed to be replaced. 

Repair work is now well underway, and the stonemasons are using Portland stone from Derbyshire to replace the damaged pieces.   

Research into the history of Square Church suggests that the windows were originally fitted with stained glass.  The Congregational Register of 1858 notes that ‘The whole of the windows are filled with tinted and stained glass of appropriate patterns’, but unfortunately it does not include a description of the rose window from the time, so plain glass will be installed. 

Brighouse based Touchstone Glazing Solutions Ltd is providing the glazing for the rose window and five other windows which remain from the original church building.  These will all be incorporated into the new Central Library and Archive.  

This is a highly specialised, meticulous process during which a template is created for each individual element of each window.  The rose window is made up of 85 individual pieces and the measurements must be exact so that the glass will fit without gaps.  Each piece is slightly different so each piece will have its own template. 

It’s likely that this is the first time a rose window has ever been double glazed, so the painstaking process of hand cutting each piece, using its unique template, is repeated to create two panes. Thermally efficient glass has been chosen for each window, to help conserve heat in the new building.   

The outer glass pane is placed in a kiln, to create a finish which is similar to weathered glass.  The two panes are then joined to create a frameless double glazed unit, to maximise the amount of light which can enter the building.  Lead is then applied to attach the glass to the stone window frame. 

A sample window was created by Touchstone Glazing, to demonstrate the system, and this has been approved by the Council’s Conservation Officers. 

National contractor GRAHAM Construction is building the new Central Library and Archive, which is due to open in summer 2017.

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