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External Access for an Upper Storey Flat

18 May 2021


Scottish Spiral Staircase

In cities across Britain, it’s fairly common to find larger townhouses from the Victorian and Georgian periods which have been converted into separate flats over time with an external staircase fitted to reach the upper floors. With older conversions in particular, this can lead to some odd internal arrangements. For this project in Scotland, we designed and manufactured a new, multi-storey spiral staircase to provide access whilst allowing the owners to make more of the internal spaces.

Rearranging the property

The three-storey property was originally constructed in the 1890s. In the 1930s, the upper floor was converted into a self-contained flat. However, the existing access arrangements for the flat were a little unusual as property owner, Peter Charlesworth, explained:

“The flat above was accessed via an external staircase to a room on the first floor and then an internal staircase from there to the second floor. This meant our house on the lower two levels had two bedrooms upstairs but no bathroom, or anywhere to build a bathroom. Instead, we had two bathrooms on the ground floor. We took the room on the first floor (which would have been the drawing room of the original house) back as a bedroom and built a bathroom and en-suite where the internal staircase used to be. This also allowed us to build a kitchen in the flat where the internal staircase was. We demolished the concrete external staircase, blocked up the entrance on the first floor and made an opening at the second floor for a new staircase.”

Full Height Spiral Staircase

To provide external access to the upper floor, Peter and his wife Paula contacted us to explore some options, settling on a Victorian spiral staircase design.

“The home is Victorian with Georgian revival features so the staircase matches well.” Peter said “We also like that it is manufactured mostly from cast aluminium. This makes the structure lighter and stiffer which was ideal given it needed to go almost as high as an external stair is allowed”

We designed the staircase with two resting landings along with a small balcony outside the entrance to the flat. The treads feature a metal riser plate and a perforated pattern which, along with decorative styling, also provides traction and allows them to drain. The baluster features spindles with a simple decorative pattern with four spindles supplied per tread.

As with all our cast aluminium staircases, the parts were all produced at our traditional Staffordshire foundry and then manufactured in North Derbyshire. Normally we would powder coat our staircases but as this was situated in a coastal environment, we worked in conjunction with Mulberry and Pier Protective Coatings Ltd who offer high quality specialist marine grade wet sprays to give longevity to the finish. For this project, they used a C5 corrosion class paint which is specifically designed to prevent corrosion in marine environments.

The height of the staircase meant the design would need to be carefully scrutinised by the local building standards department to ensure it was compliant with the Scottish Building Standards. We worked with the site team and client, providing the department with clear information to ensure the staircase was approved and that everything could move forward to schedule.

“We were very happy with the service British Spirals & Castings provided” Paula explained.

“Because the spiral is so tall, building standards had lots of questions to ask. We also had a coronavirus pandemic to deal with. Ben and Richard Harding were both very helpful. They know what they are doing. The finished result is even better than we expected, and it looks like it could have always been there.”

If you need a staircase, railing, balustrade or balcony for your own project then get in touch. You can view a wide range of our designs in our gallery and submit a quote directly from there.

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