The strongroom, which is covered by random Bantry Bay sandstone slabs, continues inside the building, as is the case with the exterior paving of Piles Creek sandstone, which is continued to the front of the chamber.
Wingham Chronicle – September 6, 1957
You can see in the below image the fear Tim has about entering a room with a 2 tonne door, no windows and 30cm thick concrete walls all round. This claustrophobia is not uncommon and the challenge we were going to face was how to turn this cold, bunker of a room, into a pleasant meeting room.
One of the first challenges to address was the installation of air-conditioning. To do this Chris and Aaron spent four hours on a extremely heavy, diamond tip, core driller. The heat in the room was stifling. To add to the humidity, the drill needed to be water cooled so, while one person pushed with all their weight into the drill, the other mopped up the gritty water slurry.
THIS VAULT IS TOUGH! The walls are not only thick but full of aggregate. The stone is super hard and the render is 20mm thick.
Like the stairs, the vault door was painted the offensive ANZ blue and in acrylic over the original enamel. This had to be stripped back to metal.
The original colour of the vault was the cool powder blue used in the bank managers office and upstairs staff room. As this space needed to be made more inviting, the original colour was not going to be suitable. The sand and mustard colours used elsewhere in the building were adopted to give the room a warmer, welcoming feel.
The vault door was painted it’s original colours, black and tangerine. This is something we would never do today, where the industrial aesthetic is very on trend. It is interesting to gain an insight into the mind of the 1950s designer. They saw the vault more as a modern appliance. How cool is it that the vault door is on display through the front glass windows? It demonstrates how radical the ES&A Bank were in their branch design. No longer was the bank a heavy, stately, closed building with the money hidden from view. This building says “I am new, progressive, open, welcoming and confident”.
With any of the new elements we introduced into the building, we wanted to ensure that they were equal to the quality of the original features. As new services needed to be put into the vault, a solution was needed that did not require us to cut into the extremely strong concrete. Polished copper pipes not only allow the new wiring to be surface mounted, but add a real wow factor to the room. They are warm but still very vault like.
The design was drawn up by Aaron and printed out at 100%. The pipes were laid on the floor over the pattern. The position of the saddles that hold the pipes to the roof were marked onto the ceiling from the plan on the floor with a plumb bob. So much hammer drilling followed!
Tim was now comfortable enough to sit in the room and admire.
With the carpet laid, warm lighting and a lovely Parker dining suite, the room was now more inviting and ready for meetings.
A special note has to go to our electrician extraordinaire, Daniel Helmier. This man was more than just a tradie. He loves ‘The Bank’ as much as we did and really poured his heart and soul into the building. He not only sourced the fantastic orange industrial hi-bay lights but managed to work out how to earth all the copper pipes so they were safe.
The other item that got a lot of love was the powerpoint and light switches. They are replica vintage fixtures and they are mounted on hand made, solid Tasmanian oak blocks.
Finally, our Kimmy gave the joint a once over with a joss stick to get rid of any residual claustrophobia and general bad energy.