The historic Hamilton Square Station has become the fourth Liverpool tube station to be clad with vitreous enamel steel cladding supplied by the South African producer, Vitrex.

Local producer of vitreous enamel steel cladding, Vitrex, has played a big part in the refurbishment of the historic 19th century Hamilton Square Station in Liverpool, England.

The cladding contract called for 1 000m² of mainly Singapore White heavy-gauge vitreous enamel steel panels, and also Slate Grey panels for the intersections of cross-passages and platforms.

According to Cristian Cottino, sales and marketing director of Vitrex, the company also supplied curved panels, which had to be fitted with acoustic linings, for the platforms of the 130-year-old station.

These panels were designed and specified by United Kingdom (UK) based SAS Project Management, who also installed the cladding panels and light boxes along the platforms, tube tunnels and commuter walkways. In addition, the company also installed 2 000m² of bespoke linear plank ceilings and upstands along Hamilton Square Station.

This refurbishment is part of a large-scale project to improve all five Liverpool city centre Merseyrail loop-line stations. Vitrex cladding was already fitted at Liverpool Central (2012), Lime Street (2013) and James Street (2013) Stations, and Vitrex has started supplying vitreous enamel steel cladding for Moorfields, the fifth station to be upgraded and scheduled to reopen in April 2016.

The aim of the R860-million overhaul of the tube stations is to improve facilities for the increasing number of passengers, as well as to modernise the stations with better flooring, brighter lighting and improved passenger information, Cottino points out.

“Vitreous or ‘porcelain enamel steel cladding’, as it is sometimes called, has specific properties that make it the ideal solution in terms of durability, particularly in high-traffic areas such as underground stations,” Cottino explains.

Vitreous enamel steel cladding panels have been widely exported by Vitrex for several decades now, particularly for installations at rail stations in the UK, Ireland and the Far East.

Benefits of vitreous enamel steel cladding:
•    Low maintenance: The colours are permanent, non-fading and the surface only requires periodic maintenance.
•    Corrosion-proof: The coating is resistant to most alkalis, acids, organic solvents, and kerosene and vehicle emissions.
•    Hygienic: The absence of pores on the surface eliminates the absorption of dirt and reduces the growth of bacteria and mould.
•    Resistance to abrasion: The surface is resistant to abrasive materials with a hardness rating between six and seven on the MOH scale (quartz has a rating of seven).
•    Vandal-proof: It is extremely difficult to permanently mark the surface with knives, keys and screwdrivers, and graffiti can easily be removed.
•    Fire resistance: Classified as non-combustible (A1) in accordance with ISO Standard EN 13501-1, the panels will resist heat of up to 650°C and continuous temperatures of up to 400°C.
•    Thermal shock: It will withstand rapid cooling from 400°C to room temperature over 30 seconds.
•    Vermin-proof: The surface is impervious to attacks by rodents and boring insects.
•    It offers acoustic and thermal insulation.
•    Environmentally friendly: The panels have a working life of well over 30 years and are fully recyclable.

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Historic discoveries made during revamp

Hamilton Square Station was opened in February 1886. During its refurbishment, the original sign for the railway station was uncovered as well as historic posters dating back to the 1940s to 1960s were found underneath the old wall cladding.

Among the curiosities discovered was a newspaper poster about Liverpool’s Flypaper Murderess, referring to the 1889 trial of Liverpudlian socialite, Florence Maybrick, who was accused of murdering her husband, James, with arsenic obtained by dissolving flypaper in water. She escaped the death sentence because of a lack of proof.

Another poster found advertised a concert at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall to raise funds for a Relief Fund for Hungarians fleeing their country during the 1956 Hungarian uprising against Communism.

Despite being hidden from public view for many decades, these posters are still clearly legible. They have been photographed and recorded by local historians, providing interesting insight into the old station and life in Liverpool and Merseyside years ago.