Friday, April 23, 2010

New glass for the windows

Historian Premesh Lalu’s blog comment last week asked the question ‘what is glazing?’ Well here’s the answer to his question. On Thursday 22 April the windows of Hostel 33 were reglazed – or put simply – new glass was put into the old windows. Expert glazer Errol Hendricks and his team arrived on site to do the work. Over the years glass has disappeared from the small paned windows at Hostel 33, some through vandalisation in the past by children playing and throwing stones and some from breakages caused by missing or broken clasps on the old galvanised steel windows.
February 2010, broken window panes at Hostel 33. Photograph: Laura Davies.

With winter rains coming, the Hostel was increasingly vulnerable to wind driven rain and an urgent concern in the restoration process has been the simple repair of these windows – the replacement of glass and the ironmongery of the clasps to enable the building to be properly secured. Errol Hendricks and his team – John ‘Max’ Malgarte, Japie Pretorius and Suleiman Thornton – accompanied by Lunga Smile and Renchius van der Merwe were on site to do the repairs, which provoked much interest from passers bye that came to find out what we were doing with the old building.
Glazers John 'Max' Malgarte and Error Hendricks at work on site preparing the windows for re-glazing. Photograph: Noeleen Murray.

As the team worked to clean the windows and prepare them for the new AGI N/S1 Safety Glass as specified by the architects, Lunga Smile and neighbour Kadephi Mtiya consulted neighbours who generously donated old window clasps from their own hostel-homes so that Hostel 33 would have matching original window clasps. (The Museum has replaced their own windows with newer style clasps which are commercially available).


Old ironmongery. Original window clasps were sourced by Lunga Smile from neighbours to replace those missing at Hostel 33. Photograph: Noeleen Murray.

Glazing in process - showing the new safety glass panes and the widow putty before being scraped down and finished. Photograph: Noeleen Murray.

The old steel windows proved to be in remarkably good condition despite being located near the sea, owing to the fact that they were galvanised. This enabled the glazers to install the glass with minimal intervention as no primer was needed and only the areas affected were lightly scraped to receive the glass panes and putty, affixed in a manner faithful to the original glazing techniques. This was great news as the historic character of the windows can now be left untouched, revealing layer of old paint which has peeled off over the years and no interventions around the edges of the windows and cills as these are all in good order.

Thank you to the various neighbours who donated window clasps. Their support, interest and neighbourliness in the restoration of Hotel 33 is a vital part of the sustainability of the space as a Museum. In particular Kadephi Mtiya’s initiative in watching over the Hostel, and explaining its significance to children who might otherwise vandalise the building is an example of these good relations.

Neighbour Kadephi Mtiya and Lunga Smile hand over the donated window clasps to glazer John 'Max' Malgarte who was servicing and repairing the windows. Photograph: Noeleen Murray.
The delight expressed during surprise visits by Charmion 'Mama' Plummer and Siboniwe Tyeku - previous Board Member and champion of the Museum - captured the sense of relief felt by museum staff as the windows were secured.


Charmion Plummer photographed outside Hotel 33 showing the newly glazed windows in the background. Photograph: Noeleen Murray.

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