Watson Fothergill Offices, George Street, Nottingham


We’re currently working on this beautiful Grade II listed building in the heart of Nottingham City Centre. The building was designed by Watson Fothergill, an English architect who designed over 100 unique buildings in Nottinghamshire between 1864 and 1912.

Fothergill is relatively unknown outside of Nottingham, but his buildings have had a huge impact on the architecture of the city we see today. Projects included offices, banks, warehouses, churches and private residential homes. Fothergill was heavily influenced by Gothic Revival, and Old English vernacular architecture. Distinctive in style, his designs are recognisable for their use of highly decorative and playful features including; contrasting bands of red and blue brick, elaborate carvings and terracotta friezes, balconies, turrets and dark timber eaves. Keep an eye out for the ‘mortgage monkey’ on the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Bank, Thurland Street!

Many of these features can be seen in the design of his offices on George Street. This elaborate building, completed in 1895, acted as a 3 dimensional catalogue of Fothergill’s art, and represents a heady mix of Old English, Scottish Baronial and Germanic Medieval influences. Notable details include terracotta panels depicting Classical, Medieval and Elizabethan building construction; busts of architects who influenced Fothergill’s style; a statue of a medieval architect at work; and the beautifully ornate oriel window.

It is this last feature, the oriel window, which was badly damaged in 2015, when it was struck by a lorry turning into George Street. Working alongside Nottingham City Conservation Officers, Bonsers were commissioned to undertake the complex and highly skilled rebuilding and restoration works, to return the building to its former glory. Firstly, it was essential to carefully map and document the masonry to be dismantled. Each brick and stone detail was numbered and marked on a sketch to aid the re-construction process. Features which were damaged beyond repair, including special bricks and stone details, were re-made to match the existing.  The brickwork and stone features were then carefully dismantled using small tools, cleaned to remove the old mortar, and set aside for re-use. Where masonry was staying we carefully toothed out the brickwork to allow the front part of the bay to be dismantled. Once the columns, cills and external face brickwork were removed, the internal brickwork was taken down by hand, cleaned off and set to one side for re-use. Each section was then carefully rebuilt in the correct position, bedded in a lime mortar, with the internal brickwork bonded to the external using mechanical ties. Cracked stone was stitched using heli-bar fixings, then window cills and mullions were rebuilt using the salvaged materials.

We are currently in the process of placing the window arches, before rebuilding the final pieces of masonry. The windows, which were removed for safe keeping and have undergone minor repairs, will then be re-installed. Final plasterwork and cleaning is due to take place at the end of the month, before we can finally return the finished building to its owner. 

This is a wonderful project to work on, and Bonsers are delighted to have been part of the restoration of such an iconic building. We’ll keep you updated with pictures of the building when it’s complete. If you have any questions in the meantime, about this or any other project, why not drop us an email or give us a call. You can find our contact details here.


Posted on:   23 January, 2018

Posted by:   Amy Smith

We have restored the former Mill Managers House at Darley Abbey Mills as wedding guest accommodation. We have been delighted with the workmanship, site management and level of dedication shown to complete the project. The internal restoration works have included new lath & plaster ceiling, three coat lime plaster and repair of lime ash floors. Externally the works have included repointing, repair and structural repairs. We will be looking to use Bonsers again on our future projects.

Andrew Rose, Darley Abbey Mills

We have worked successfully together on many high-profile heritage conservation projects including; the restoration of the Grade I listed Mill Building at Cromford World Heritage Site for the Arkwright Society; the restoration of the Bestwood Winding House, A Grade II listed building and scheduled ancient monument for Nottinghamshire County Council; and the restoration of the Grade II listed Buxton pavilion for High Peak Borough Council. Bonsers specialise in a vast array of heritage skills, ranging from stone repairs, lime plaster, ornate plaster repairs and brickwork, joinery and ironmongery restoration.

Les Needham, G F Tomlinson Group Limited

G F Tomlinson have used the specialist services of Bonsers extensively over many years, and regard them as our key heritage conservation and restoration supply chain partner. Their in-depth knowledge and skills on heritage building practices and sensitive approach to the protection of historic building fabric, are second to none.

On all of these schemes, they have delivered a first-class service and a very high standard of workmanship, and we therefore have no hesitation in recommending Bonsers to any prospective client.

Les Needham, G F Tomlinson Group Limited

The second and more challenging project Bonsers worked with us on was the Building 17 project. This was a very problematic project with cutting edge solutions required to the contamination issues within the building. The work was very difficult and the working conditions extremely unpleasant. The Bonsers team acted extremely professionally at all times, the communication between contractor and client was exemplary, they worked to a tight timescale and budget. Additionally their follow up services have been second to none, coming to site to sort out any maintenance issues and also providing support to us in our work engaging with our community about the project.
I would fully recommend their services to others.

Sarah McLeod, CEO, Cromford Mills

The canal side restaurant project was relatively small and straight forward though the timescale was extremely short – opening up the upper floor for extra trading space, introducing a dumb waiter and toilets into the building. However, the Bonsers' team treated the project very seriously, taking great care to liaise with me as the client,   working very considerately alongside my own staff and engaging positively with  the passing public when required to do so. Equally, they completed the job on time and within budget.

Sarah McLeod, CEO, Cromford Mills

As part of the restoration project funded by English Heritage, Bonsers were employed as the main contractor on this project, initially based upon very good references and viewing previous projects. Throughout the whole project working with Bonsers was professional, helpful and with a real emphasis on caring about what was being restored – not just another builder on a building. We would certainly use Bonsers again for any other restoration work at Barlborough Hall.

Malc Lucas, Facilities Manager, Mount St Mary’s College & Barlborough Hall School

Bonsers impressed with their deep technical knowledge, experience and empathy of historic buildings. Their quality, workmanship and professional attitude was impressive throughout.

Michael Shaw BEng CEng MRAeS Bursar, Coventry School Foundation