Worthy of praise

The flexibility offered in Bohle’s adjustable Bilbao Premium swinging shower door hinges proved critical in a high-end shower enclosure installation in a former Victorian church. By Bohle.

An estimated 20,000 disused churches and chapels have been sold for conversion into homes across the UK in the last 30 years.

Combining period character, including stained glass windows, gothic arches and timber eaves, with contemporary living creates challenges. This includes preserving the character of the building, while making it liveable.

Architects have turned to glass installations as a way of dividing and defining living space while retaining the openness of the original space, making church conversions potential rich picking grounds for glass fit-out specialists. This includes the installation of balustrading, walls, showers and doors.

Their age, their layout and often listed building status, however, can make conversions complex, requiring a high degree of adaptability from those running their renovation, and not least the hardware systems they use.

PGS Glass recently completed a series of installations as part of the conversion of All Saints Church, a converted former Anglican chapel in Horsmoden, Tunbridge Wells.

Designed by the architect Robert Wheeler in the English gothic style, it was built over two years from 1869 to 1870 with grade two listing.

This included the installation of a new shower enclosure in the master bedroom on the newly created first floor, bringing the top of the shower screen up to and around the eaves of the Victorian church.

Paul Groves, contracts manager at PGS Glass, said: “It looks straight forward but it was a very tricky fit because we went right up to the eaves. The back wall also wasn’t straight, which again made things more complicated.”

PGS created the enclosure using 20mm x 15mm U-channel from Bohle which it set into the floor, the back wall, and one of the eaves of the church.

It combined this with Bohle’s Bilbao Premium swinging shower door hinges, which accommodate weights of up 36kg or 50kg per pair, and 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm glass. This means that they can be used with doors of 1,000 x 2,000mm.

Available in a choice of chrome or stainless-steel finishes, and with a contemporary design, they offer an infinitely adjustable zero position, a +/-15º return motion, and use concealed fixings.

“On a job like this you’ve got to be able to get over problems,” Paul said. “We’d spent a lot of time surveying but even then, there are little things that you encounter. The glass may be slightly bowed, the walls won’t be straight.

“The Bilbao hinges are heavy duty enough to allow you to pull in the glass and then adjust them to accommodate other small imperfections so that everything lines up perfectly.

“The guys doing the fit-out work love them because you get a lot of adjustment, and that gets you over those little issues that could otherwise swallow up a lot of time on site.”