This stair leads to the staff lunch room and toilet facilities on the first floor. The windows of those staff amenities rooms, which face the street, are screened by an aluminium grille, thirty-four feet long and ten feet high, designed to shield the windows from the Summer sun.
Wingham Chronicle – Tuesday, September 3, 1957
When ES&A Bank opened this branch, the sewer was yet to be connected in Wingham. The toilets in this building are likely to be the first flushing toilets in town, installed in anticipation of this future modern convenience. It must have been luxurious for staff to have these facilities.
Fast forward to 2015 and the staff facilities were now completely disgusting.
As with the rest of the building, the later modifications were poorly designed and made the spaces small and unusable.
This included the partitioning of the upper floor with a stud wall to create two rooms. The condition of everything was tired, the colours hideous, plastic conduit everywhere, rotting carpet and 1980s lino complete the vial picture.
But there was still some really great original features. The tiles in the bathrooms were great. The bathroom doors still had their original door closers and their ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ signs.
One of the original sinks was missing and some tiles replaced with non matching white tiles.
While these staff facilities were amazing in 1950s, they really were not going to be up-to-scratch for a modern office. The kitchen was just a sink and had no room for appliances or preparation area. We really like to eat good food at Well Creative, so a space to prepare our lunch was essential.
The decision was made to move the kitchen to the other end of the room to accommodate this. The only problem was that the water a sewer lines are on the alternate side of the building. The solution was to run new water in and waste water out along the adjoining wall of the main studio / bank chamber.
We had to first drill though the wall and, like the bank vault below, the walls are 300mm thick concrete. Aaron with the help of his partner Geoff got on the end of the core driller and created access for the new water and power.
Down with the wall!
With the stud Wall demolished, the space was now as it was originally meant to be. The masonry balustrade regaining is dynamic, architectural angles.
The wall where the new kitchen was to run along was studded out, new plumbing, power and air-conditioning fixed and covered with plasterboard.
The ceiling was repaired and the original Kempthornne light fittings were removed, resprayed and rewired.
The kitchen wall was tiled black. This was not how it was originally, but we took our cue from the night-safe surround on the front porch. We used 150 x 150mm square tiles, not fashionable now, but they are the correct size for a Mid Century Modern restoration. You can get them through Johnson Tiles who do a really great range of Mid Century modern colours in this size. They are available by special order through any Bunnings Warehouse.
The air-conditioner cover was sprayed matt black to match the tiles. Rustoleum is the best brand to use for this. Bonds to plastic and is easy to use. Make sure you mask up any infrared components so the remote still works.
We also carefully removed the original tiles around the plastic replacement sink. Not all tiles came off in once piece but we had enough to replace broken ones in the other wash room and toilet.
We were amazingly lucky to have three guys helps us out with this installation of genuine 1950s style composite vinyl floor tiles. Old pro’s from back in day. The tiles were sourced on eBay. Due to the limited number purchased, Aaron designed a random pattern that gradates from the black vinyl on the stairs to the sand colour at the other end. This is a specialist job we could not do ourselves. You can by these vinyl tiles through Armstrong Flooring but they are a commercial tile used now only in supermarkets. This is why Aaron purchased leftovers on eBay but then had a hard time to get a layer as commercial layers only do large areas.
Finishing touches put in place
The boys decide to christen the room
Aaron gets over excited by an emergency Ikea delivery from Sydney.
The end result is now a wonderful lunch room with great views over the town and surrounding hills.
A replacement Armatage Ware sink was found. With close matching tiles to the original and new hardware the wash room is looking very luxy.
We even installed an entrepreneurial eco-system. (That’s a buzz word for garden wall). It has it’s own watering system and drainage as this is where the original sink was.
Above the chamber and overlooking the town, is the staff amenities room, complete with sink, cupboards, lockers and washing facilities.
Wingham Chronicle – Friday, September 6, 1957