Romans, Vikings and planning departments

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell considers our heritage sector.

One of the features in the October issue of Glass Times is heritage, so it was at the front of my mind when I recently visited York for a long weekend.

Today, York’s main industry is tourism, thanks to people wanting to witness its rich social, political, cultural and military history, much of it still evident in the city’s well-preserved (in the most part) architecture – especially within the city walls.

However, as we approached our apartment on the first day, and not far from the centre, we stopped in traffic outside a hotel, which struck me as a perfect example of how windows have been improperly installed into historic buildings over the years.

The hotel’s owners had bought adjoining buildings, which had been renovated differently by previous owners. On the left, the original timber sliding sash windows had been cared for and appropriately renovated where necessary. On the right were first generation PVCU replacements that looked at best out of place, at worst hideous.

This is in a city that prides itself on its architectural guardianship. It should be no surprise, therefore, that the heritage sector appears to be one of the eagerly contested areas in the glass and glazing industry at the moment – profile and glass.

Of course, look around the city of York, and there are even earlier examples of how planning departments weren’t so diligent – brick buildings butting up to mediaeval churches, for example. I suppose we should be grateful that we live in a time that respects our architectural heritage.