Baxi Heating’s Sales Director Dan Martindale looks at how a newly upgraded heating system is playing a vital role in protecting Wentworth Woodhouse for future generations.

Wentworth Woodhouse, one of the largest houses in Europe and an architectural jewel in the UK’s heritage crown, has selected Potterton Commercial Sirius three boilers to help bring its heating system into the 21st century.

The former seat of the Earls Fitzwilliam, familiar to many as the backdrop for a series of film and TV period dramas including Darkest Hour and Gentleman Jack, was bought by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust in 2017 to save it from decline. 

And now a major 20-year restoration masterplan, estimated to cost £130 million, is underway to ensure the Yorkshire estate will flourish for centuries to come.

Heating plays a vital role in protecting the fabric of historic buildings, as well as helping create a comfortable internal environment. So, when the four ageing non-condensing boilers serving the house started to fail, the Wentworth Woodhouse estates team needed to find an affordable and reliable solution.

“We had to act fast to improve humidity levels in the house, especially in the state rooms,” said Julie Readman, head of the Wentworth Woodhouse estates team. “And, of course, we also want our visitors to be warm once the pandemic restrictions are lifted and we are able to welcome them back.

“Our future aim is to introduce green heating technologies. But at the time, the complexities of heritage refurbishment and the inability to plan ahead meant that installing replacement boilers was the only feasible option.”

Durability, reliability, and efficiency were the key priorities to lower operational costs in the stately home – which led to the selection of Potterton Commercial Sirius three Floor Standing 150 boilers for the upgrade.

This range offers high gross seasonal efficiencies, a wide 9:1 modulation ratio for improved efficiency and boiler longevity, weather compensation functionality for reduced operational costs, and stainless-steel heat exchangers for reliable and energy-efficient heat transfer. 

NRC Services installed two Sirius three FS 150 boilers with a total output of 300kW, supplied with integrated plate heat exchangers and boiler shunt pump kits for ease of installation. A third boiler will be installed at a later date, when funds allow, to ensure optimum reliability of the service. 

The plate heat exchangers and additional filtration will protect the new boilers from any system contaminants for increased longevity, while ensuring optimal system performance and efficiency. 

Nathan Briddock, Mechanical Divisional Director at NRC, said: “Given the nature of the building, the project involved the typical refurbishment challenges. With limited space within the basement plant room, it was tight to fit in the new equipment, flues, and ventilation, and allow space for the third boiler. 

“But, thanks to careful planning and the compact dimensions of the Sirius three, we managed to position everything within the available space and ensure good access for future maintenance.”

The flueing arrangements for the new condensing boilers were also more complex due to the listed nature of the building, as Julie noted: “We explored lots of options, but the only solution that met the exacting legislative and heritage considerations was to use the existing flue void.”

Flue specialist Jeremias Chimney Systems installed a new flue in the same service riser, with new ventilation ducts routed to the courtyard for aesthetic purposes.
The boilers are supplied with the latest Siemens controls with state-of-the-art PCB for improved control options. 

“The Baxi Heating technical department was extremely helpful,” continued Nathan. “They provided detailed instruction on wiring the new built-in intelligent boiler controls, in conjunction with weather compensation and control of the existing pumped heating zones and domestic hot water circuit.”

The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust received grants from the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help it through the enforced winter closure, awarded by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This enabled it to install and run the refurbished heating system and protect the building fabric.

The two-month project was completed on schedule. A gas meter has been fitted to monitor fuel consumption moving forward and the estates team is anticipating considerable carbon and energy savings from the new boilers. 

“The new Sirius three boilers are up and running and providing an impressive amount of heat in our state rooms,” Julie added. “Even with just the two boilers providing 300kW, we are getting more heat than we did with our old boilers, which had a total output of 420kW. They are so much more efficient – we’re delighted!”