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Transforming The Former George Hotel in Highbridge

David Salisbury has built a brand and hugely successful nationwide business based on transforming our customers' homes and living spaces.

Now, our growing windows & joinery division is following in the same footsteps, by helping to refurb and restore some prestigious buildings, whether private residential or, in this case, for commercial applications.

We were very proud to be part of a major renovation project to give a new lease of life to Highbridge’s former George Hotel. Completed over a period of 14 months, the project turned the former vacant site into a new furniture store, 'Sopha,' which opened mid way through 2018.

The George Hotel is understood to have been built around 1775 as a Coaching Inn. With its Georgian frontage, it has stood as a landmark at the end of Church Street in Highbridge, meaning any restoration project needed to be conducted carefully and sensitively.

Matt and Emily Scott, the owners of the former hotel employed Lawrence Duck, architect (RIBA, BSc, MArch) to draw up plans to transform the site.

As Lawrence highlighted: “The client needed a high quality, contemporary retail space in order to display and sell handmade furniture for their new business. This would require over 600m2 shop-floor display area, together with staff offices, stock storage and a cafe in order to make the business a 'destination' for customers. We also planned for 4 self-contained 1 bedroom flats to be included within the design.”

"Instantly we recognised the historic value of the George Hotel which used to be a grand and prominent building in its Victorian hay-day and held a lot of emotional attachment to local residents. It seemed that every tradesman had once had a party, got married or had worked at The George! The decision was taken to restore the old building and integrate it into the new shop.”

"We aimed to open up the rooms as much as possible on the ground floor by removing dividing walls and suspended ceilings, but still retaining features such as masonry chimneys and timber beams to bring back a historic character to the spaces. Other historic features were repaired and upgraded such as the timber sash windows from David Salisbury,” Lawrence noted.

"This aged feel would be in contrast to the new construction in the centre of the site, where a two storey hybrid structure (glu-laminated timber and steel beams) reconnects the separate buildings to form a modern, open, free flowing space. We completely rethought the access from the carpark which was previously through a low ceilinged reception area. With some alteration to the first floor and external wall we designed a new double-height glazed opening which creates a welcoming new entrance for the shop,” Lawrence concluded.”

Where possible, the couple used local suppliers to contribute to this restoration project. Our successful history of working with period and Listed Buildings allied to our fully bespoke joinery capabilities meant David Salisbury was a natural choice to design and manufacture the full schedule of timber windows that were required.

Joe Marsh, David Salisbury's leading window sales designer, worked on this project from start to finish, in close partnership with Lawrence. Delivered in 3 phases to meet the phased construction schedule, Joe designed a number of bespoke windows and sliding sash windows. Expertly manufactured in our high-tech factory less than a mile away, this is the type of window contract for which David Salisbury excels: a high quality product designed to complement the features of a period property. It also ranks as one of our shortest ever deliveries in terms of distance!

The new owners commented: “We would like to say a massive thank you to…all the local tradespeople and businesses that have been involved in the project…”

On behalf of David Salisbury Joinery, we wish Sopha all the very best for the future and we look forward to visiting again soon for a cup of coffee in their very inviting upstairs cafe. Full of natural light, looking out through our bespoke sash windows, makes you realise our timber windows really do help to transform our customers' homes and commercial properties.

Visit the new Sopha website.