Senior Common Room Refurbishment

Senior Common Room Refurbishment

Senior Common Room restored including previously unused fourteenth century roofspace

The Challenge

This project involved refurbishing the Senior Common Room within a very historic college building. We had to comply with strict Heritage requirements for this job to create the best match with the surrounding historic building fabric. For example, during the course of the project, we uncovered timberwork and beams dating back to the 14th century that needed careful repair and treatment.

Part of the challenge of this project was the limited space we had to work in to install its main feature: a passenger lift that would provide disabled access to the SCR from the ground floor. We also had to work with extreme care and attention as there was a busy, live college environment surrounding the site on all sides.

Our expertise and ability in using traditional materials and work practices also came to the fore, as we needed to use numerous traditional materials including a considerable quantity of lime plaster to finish the previously untouched 14th century loft area.

Ancient timbers and contemporary features sit side by side.

The Approach

We employed trusted subcontractors for all the main sub-contract parts of this project and used our in-house team of specialist carpenters, joiners, plasterers, and masons to ensure that all aspects of the project were delivered to the client’s satisfaction.

As is usual, we made sure that we took an active role in liaising with the client’s architect and the other members of the professional team over the details of the design,

solving design issues on paper before they became problems on-site.

We feel this is key to Richard Ward’s success on these types of complex projects as being ‘hands-on’ and proactive not only helps the client obtain the best outcome, it naturally keeps check on the project finances and timescales which is naturally a benefit to all concerned.

Restoration of an Oxford College Senior Common Room.

For this particular project, a large joinery package formed the bulk of the new work. We carried this out through our in-house joinery division which enabled us to make numerous ‘live’ redesigns to overcome issues caused by the nature of the historic site. It would have likely been costly and time-consuming if we had subcontracted this work to an outside joinery firm, adversely impacting budget and delivery timescales. The in-built flexibility afforded by Richard Ward being able to carry out so much of the work in-house really comes into focus on projects such as this.

We always take great care and interest in the projects we carry out in order to produce a coherent, best quality outcome, and this was particularly true in the case of this project.

The Outcome

The project was completed to the agreed timescale and the client was absolutely delighted with the results, evidenced in the fact they have subsequently called on us again several times to carry out projects of a similar nature.


Richard Ward (Oxford) Ltd. look forward to discussing your next project and as detailed throughout our website, the more bespoke, challenging, and out of the ordinary the better!

The roofspace is now occupied for the first time in many hundreds of years.
Our beautiful joinery creates a stylish, contemporary stairwell.

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