West Horsley Place protected by Automist fire suppression system

Filming location of hit BBC Series Ghosts improves fire safety in it's Grade I listed building


Improving fire safety at historical West Horsley Place
Automist fire suppression installed at historic grade I listed manor
Automist installed at West Horsley Place
Automist sprayhead installed at West Horsley Place

Work was carried out at West Horsley Place, a 15th century building recently used as the set for the recent BBC hit series Ghosts, to remove the building from Historic England's 'Heritage at Risk’ register.

To improve fire safety in the building, Plumis worked with installer Vapourmist Solutions to adapt and fit its ‘Automist’ watermist fire suppression system.

Overcoming risk

West Horsley Place (WHP) is a 15th century, Grade I listed building to the east of Guildford in Surrey. Though it has stood the test of time, work needed to be done to the medieval Manor House and remove it from Historic England's 'Heritage at Risk Register', particularly with addressing the two main fire risks identified by Innovation Fire’s fire strategy report.

This included the building’s silk lining walls and asbestos in the attic space which although safe, could not be addressed immediately and posed several barriers to a fire prevention systems installation. Based on these two concerning elements, the fire strategy report recommended the installation of a water mist suppression system as part of a holistic set of measures.

Protecting the building’s fabric

Vapourmist Solutions was appointed to work with the building’s consultants, contractors, conservation officer and Historic England to propose the best installation strategy, ensuring the installation of Plumis' Automist Smartscan Hydra satisfied the requirements of the fire strategy.

Our Automist was selected as it would support the building managers in retaining the original aesthetics of the building, whilst mitigating the building’s overall fire risks and preventing damage to any historic artefacts. This is because Automist uses flexible hoses and wall mounted spray heads, making it an adaptable solution to fit around this historic structure without damaging the fabric of the building. It also provided key benefits over other systems, such as directly targeting fire and minimising damage by using 90% less water than traditional sprinklers, if activated.

Taking a unique approach 

Due to the strict conservation constraints, a tailored approached for the system’s installation was needed. For example, one of the bedrooms at WHP was found to be lined with asbestos, making it impossible to install a spray head in the most favourable location. As an alternative, it was proposed that this particular spray head would be fitted within a doorway that was already planned to be infilled. The flexibility of the system meant that once the asbestos has been removed, the head could be easily relocated to the desired position.

The building is frequently used as a filming location, so many of the head locations had to be positioned discreetly. As a result of this, a technical and management strategy review of the system was carried out to ensure none of the spray heads would be jeopardised. This included fitting spray heads into bookcases with bespoke framing (where floor to ceiling bookshelves covered every wall), routing hoses around the building structure without damage.

At WHP a Red Care monitoring system was also installed with a 2-knock setting fitted so that if one smoke alarm was triggered it would notify the estate manager and if a second alarm was triggered would then notify the fire services. Vapourmist installed Automist so that it works independently from WHP’s linked smoke alarms but adapted the system with Plumis; so that when any pump is activated it will knock the Red Care monitoring system.

A tailored aftercare package for the system was also developed to ensure the integrity of the system could be simply managed following installation.

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Plumis’ Automist has significantly improved the overall safety of West Horsley Place, providing lasting protection of this iconic medieval manner for future generations to enjoy. The innovative work undertaken to improve the building’s fire safety was recognised in the 2020 Security & Fire Excellence Awards and a finalist in the Fire Project of the Year category.

If you manage a heritage building and are interested in knowing more about Plumis’ Automist technology, get in touch on 020 7871 3899.

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