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Murdoch Awards celebrates leadwork industry quality

by Matt Downs

The Murdoch Awards from the Lead Contractors Association have long been recognised as a symbol of excellence for those engaged in the leadwork industry.

The 2019 Awards introduced a new award category to recognise the highest standards of quality achieved within ornamental leadwork. The award winners recognised the sustainability credentials by incorporating ‘Envirolead’, supplied by ALM, as their material of choice.

Manufactured in the UK to the highest British Standard BS EN 12588, Associated Lead Mill’s partner company Envirowales currently achieves more than 95% recycling efficiency at its lead-acid battery recycling plant.

At the awards ceremony, ALM’s Managing Director Barry Smith said: “As one of the UK’s leading distributors of rolled lead sheet, we are pleased to continue with our sponsorship of the Murdoch Awards, which do so much to enhance the profile of lead sheet, along with those involved in its use and our industry as a whole.”

This year saw a record number of entries to the Murdoch Awards, coming from a diverse industry cross-section of micro, SME and Tier One contractors. Those that successfully passed the rigorous vetting process were then selected for consideration by the judges.

The Murdoch Award Finalists:

Richardson Roofing with Audley Cooper’s Hill luxury retirement village

Audley Cooper’s Hill luxury retirement village was formerly part of Brunel University, and is located within the 66 acres of the Magna Carta Park in the village of Englefield Green. This Grade II-listed building required considerable renovation, and lead sheet procured from ALM was chosen to maintain the traditional appearance of the dome turrets while also complying with planning requirements in order to ensure a long-lasting finish.

Most of the dome’s octagonal turret is in Code 5 lead, including the vertical panels and bays which were centralised with wood roll. The head tradesmen used Code 7 for the clips, as it was agreed to increase by two codes instead of the standard practice of one code.

M&I Lead with Leinster House

Ian Whelan worked with his son on this major project, which included the LCA’s 25-year guarantee. Leinster House in Dublin was built in 1745 for the Earls of Kildare and Leinster, and is the seat of Oireachtas, the Parliament of Ireland.

The restoration of Leinster House began in 2018 and M&I Lead were appointed as the lead working contractor by main contractor Duggan Brothers. The original quality of leadwork and design was poor and had been continually repaired over many years. A total re-design of the leadwork to every area of the building was required to bring it up to current code of practice for lead work BS6915.  The lead was procured from Metal Processors.

The Murdoch Award Winner: D Blake & Co Ltd with 29 Waterloo Place

29 Waterlook Place was originally constructed in 1818 and is situated within Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. First used as a meeting hall for local trades, the building was likely to have been originally covered in lead, however after many years of repairs and replacement, it had been reduced to green felt roofing.

Although the building is irregularly shaped and has challenging roof geometry, the skill and professionalism of the trades involved ensured a highly rewarding finish using Envirolead purchased from ALM, which was fully recognised by the Murdoch Award.

D Blake was formed in 1877 in the city centre of Edinburgh by Mr David Blake. Alistair Rae joined in 1975 and, after many successful years, sold the business back to the workforce, who still own it to this day. Managing Director Malcolm Thomson says: “D Blake have consistently delivered the highest quality of lead work. We believe that quality counts and this helps the company obtain prestigious work”.

Murdoch Sponsors Award Finalists:

Tim Fuge Leadwork with Mixtow House

The previous GRP on Mixtow House had failed after just 25 years and, as it was the main feature on the front of the house, Tim Fuge Leadwork had to make sure it looked the part.

With a lack of any necessary joints the windows had sat almost completely flat to the surface, which wasn’t possible with the new lead roof. Fuge had to think of a way to maintain the windows’ low profile, while overcoming the difficultly of spacing the lead rolls – Envirolead from ALM – evenly and symmetrically.

Celtic Leadwork with Forrest Hill 

This project involved a fully-vented Code 5 Vaulted pitched roof with Code 5 lead gutters, and Code 4 ventilation cover flashing. The drip edges were fitted to all areas where necessary, with a Z-trim to stop wind lift and give a clean straight edge.

The main contractors’ carpenter worked closely with Chris Clarke from Celtic Leadwork to produce the substrate and details specified, which complement his exacting workmanship and help display the beauty of Envirolead’s final finish.

Murdoch Sponsors Award Winner: Tim Fuge Leadwork with Curley Cottage

Fuge was first introduced to this client when he completed a lead roof to the rear of the property – one of the original jobs he submitted to the LCA to obtain his membership.

The client originally planned to have a Sedum roof, but because of the exposed position they decided to go with lead. As an artist, the client was pleased with how the colour of the lead blended with the often-cloudy Cornish skies reflected off the sea.

The view from the master bedroom looks out over the flat roof, which joins the sea on the horizon, giving a great blend of colour and texture.

Apart from the weather, Tim said this job was a pleasure to do and it was inspirational to work for clients who had appreciation for the craft, along with a keen eye for artistic details, which can often be overshadowed by the functionality of a lead roof.

Tim Fuge Leadwork was started in 2011 when he branched out from a roofing company where he had learnt his trade and taught himself leadwork. Although the basics were picked up from a plumbing course, he also undertook a Decorative Casting course that would lead to many other opportunities. Tim started on his own as a roofer who did leadwork, but soon the demand for leadwork took over.

In 2016, Tim won the Young Lead Worker of the Year Award, which gave a massive boost to his business and confidence, and ultimately steered him towards becoming a member of the LCA.

In the last two years the company has employed two apprentices, enabling him to work on some of Cornwall and Devon’s most prestigious historic buildings and high-end modern costal homes.

Paul Walters of ALM said: “As the distributor of rolled lead sheet chosen for the project at Curley Cottage, we took considerable pride in supplying the lead to Tim Fuge Leadwork via their nominated merchant.”


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