25 June 2014 Last updated at 09:26

Set in Stone

New stone floor transforms historic Nottingham landmark

After nearly two years of consultation and six weeks of complex work, The Exchange's new stone floor has now been fully replaced.

The decision to replace the original floor, along with three sets of new entrance doors, was taken by The Exchange's management and owners following the decline in the integrity of many of the stone flags, after eighty-five years of constant wear had taken their toll. The stone for the new floor underwent meticulous testing by the British Geological Survey to ensure it was exactly the same type as the original, and consists of more than 25 tons of newly cut York Stone.

The Exchange is arguably Nottingham's most recognisable and iconic building, becoming a noted landmark in the city over the 85 years since it was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, on 22nd May, 1929.

The Council House, Exchange Buildings and adjoining shops were built between 1926 and 1929 and modelled on Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele by architect T.C. Howitt. On Howitt's death in 1968, The Times described the building as 'probably still the finest municipal building outside London', and English Heritage cited the Council House and The Exchange as 'an exceptional example of C20th civic architecture.... enhanced by the consistently high quality of the decorative art found throughout.'

Since 2010, The Exchange and Council House have been Grade II* listed, putting the centre in the top 4% of important buildings of historical interest in the country.

As such, replacing the floor was a detailed and sometimes difficult process, which was carried out in a series of night-time works over the six week period, meaning there was no disruption to access for tenants and customers.

The original floor had courses of glass light bricks, replaced in the 1980's with terracotta bricks, which divided the arcade floor into a number of 'bays'. This convenient subdividing of the floor allowed the work team from Nottingham-based UPC Management Services, to uplift and re-lay each bay as a self-contained section. The more complicated central roundel, located beneath The Exchange's magnificent domed ceiling and incorporating an inlaid compass motif, was laid last.

UPC MD Jonathan Simpson commented,

"This kind of work is inherently complicated, with the depth of the original stones varying and the state of the underlying ground-base also something of an unknown. I think the team have done a fantastic job in overcoming these problems, with the overall look of the new floor sitting perfectly with the original stonework of the surrounding buildings."

The Exchange Centre Manager, Neil Fincham added, "The fundamental aim of this work was to maintain this historic arcade in a manner befitting its status and that, unquestionably, has been achieved. The colour of the new stone is in complete contrast to that which it replaced, making the centre immediately brighter. Although a long time in coming, the wait has certainly been worthwhile, and with the addition of three sets of new entrance doors as well, the result is a high quality and sympathetic refurbishment that puts The Exchange on a firm footing for decades to come."

(Left to right) Exchange Centre Manager, Neil Fincham and Jonathan Simpson of UPC
Laying a new section around the compass motif
Removing the old stone flags
The UPC team with Neil Fincham
View of the main arcade with the new floor