This covered entrance area, which has a row of flower boxes located outside the large plate-glass windows, is paved with Piles Creek sandstone and this stone paving extends in through the entrance doors into the front part of the Banking Chamber.
Wingham Chronicle, September 3, 1957
The original architectural vision was to make a seamless transition from the exterior to the interior by using the same material palette. It makes most of the glass windows, blurring the line of inside and out.
Unfortunately the fit-out done for Holiday Coast Credit Union’s tenancy was completely lost on the designer and client alike. While we have nothing against this institution per say, we are appalled at the total lack of respect to the buildings style, beautiful materials and the craftsman ship that previous generations left for us.
The front porch was sliced up to install a ramp of non-slip ceramic tiles. Ugly in colour and not in anyway attempting to blend into the stone. The irony of the ramp is that it was really dangerous as you tended to roll your ankle if you stepped up and cut across the porch to the door.
The stud wall built to hide the beautiful staircase was anchored to the stone by nails being shot into stone. When removed the stone would blow out and crumble.
In addition to this, carpet was glued over the stone. When removed it left a thick layer of contact adhesive over the surface.
If all of this was not bad enough, concrete was also laid on top of the stone to slope up the edges for an internal door matt!
Sourcing the stone for this part of the project was easy, thanks to the Wingham Chronicle. ‘Plies Creek’. This is the creek next to Gosford Quarries. An email with pictures attached determined it as Mount White medium brown.
With the assistance of MidCoast Council’s 2016 heritage funding, the restoration of the stone paving commenced.
One thing we grappled with was the removal of the railing under the stairs. This was installed after the bank opened and would not have been part of Richard Apperly, the architects, original plan. It was installed as children kept running in behind the counters. We decided to remove it as it allowed the stairs to breath. This also left large holes in the stone.
The tiles were removed and a new concrete pad laid. The surround stone also had to be removed so the original pattern could be replicated.
The front step was replaced with matching stone.
The holes were filled with ground stone and bonding agent and the entire surface was reground to remove glue, concrete and dirt.
What a mess! Never had there been so much dust. No extraction. Everything had to be cleaned after just being painted.
But the result was brilliant!
In addition to this, the tile strip was replaced with close matching tiles as they were cut through.
“He congratulated the architects, Messrs Adam, Wright and Apperly ‘on the excellent job they have done.’
‘I must also compliment the builders, Messrs, Schmitzer & Burg, for this quality workmanship is the product of their labours, and Mr J Edstein for the attractive stone work.’
‘Unfortunately,’ Said Mr Calder ‘Masonry is an art that is fast disappearing, and you are fortunate in having such a competent stonemason in your district.”
Mr M. E. Calder – Chief Manager for New South Wales of the ES&A Bank Limited
Wingham Chronicle, September 6, 1957
It was nothing short of a miracle that the original light fittings were still in place along the porch ceiling. They all still had their lenticular glass in place but it was really loose. If anybody ever took the effort to touch them they would have fallen out and smashed. The condition of the lights was really degraded. The aluminium was really corroded and pitted and the screws rusted. They also had paint on them from previous lazy painting jobs.
They were full of wasps nests as well and really putrid.
The great thing with aluminium is that even in this condition it can be re polished. It was done with 400 grit wet and dry sandpaper and then lux soap flakes and 000 steel wool. They were then finished with a gloss clear coat to help protect them from further corrosion and finger marks.
The light fittings were manufactured by Kempthorne in Melbourne. They are one of the great Mid Century Modern lighting design companies. All the original fittings in the bank were by Kempthorne and almost all of the lights we replaced in the building are genuine fittings from the 1950s. You can find out more about them at australianmodern.wordpress.com/tag/kempthorne/
This was a really exciting day! It would have been decades since the lights were operational. Our electrician, Daniel Helmer, managed to find the old wires and actually pulled through new cables all the way to the switch board! Just amazing.
And the lights shine once more!
Night-safe facilities are provided next to the entrance doors, the night safe hatch being set in a panel of black, tangerine, yellow and white Italian mosaic tiles.
Wingham Chronicle Septemer 3, 1957
The tasteless carnage extended to the night-safe. Not only was this covered over but also the windows above.
With great trepidation we removed the new tiles which had been attached with a sheet of villaboard. To our delight the original tiles were still there.
Many tiles were drilled through, cracked or missing.
Aaron sourced a supplier who hand cut replacement tiles in black glass. All the damaged tiles were removed with a Dremel and new tiles put in their place.
Finally, a new letterbox was installed that looks similar to the original night-safe. This was hand made by Aaron from pressed aluminium.