Flagship RSPB restoration project opts for Yorkshire natural paints

28 July 2021

Brouns & Co, a Leeds-based manufacturer of traditional paints based on linseed oil, is celebrating the completion of a flagship wildlife conservation and education property restoration project for the RSPB that has used the firm’s natural linseed paint as a key component of the renovation process.

Located on the RSPB’s new nature reserve in Hampshire’s New Forest, the project involved the low-impact redevelopment of a derelict cottage set in deep woodland. The project has created an environmentally sustainable residential centre for education and research, designed to give young people immersive experiences in nature and spark an interest in the natural world.

Cameron’s Cottage, named in memory of keen naturalist, 16-year-old Cameron Bespolka, who died in a tragic accident, was designed for the RSPB and the Cameron Bespolka Trust by Hampshire-based Moorhouse Architecture as a sustainable, solar-powered property that is completely off-grid.

Principal architect Joe Moorhouse said: "Our low-impact, sympathetic approach to the project was carried through to the paint. We used Brouns & Co linseed paint for all the external woodwork because it is breathable and completely natural.”

The newly launched cottage will accommodate groups of up to 19 young people for overnight stays deep in the heart of the New Forest and includes study and research facilities.

Using the latest in environmentally sustainable materials and technology, the cutting-edge property also features 71 solar panels, natural waste water processing, recycled, blown-glass insulation and wildlife-friendly additions such as bat roosting boxes for rare horseshoe bats and nesting bricks for swifts.

Brouns & Co founder Michiel Brouns, a conservation expert who relocated from his native Netherlands to Yorkshire in 2006 to launch his natural paints business in Garforth, said: "Linseed paint is an incredible and sustainable product for wooden surfaces both outside and in and its use in the highly environmentally conscious Cameron’s Cottage renovation is testament to its green credentials and durability.

"Not only is linseed paint completely natural, it has actually been used for centuries, becoming usurped by petrochemical-based paints only a few decades ago. Now that safeguarding the environment has climbed up the global agenda, the benefits of linseed paint as a modern, sustainable, hypoallergenic and durable product are being recognised and it is undergoing a renaissance.”

The Yorkshire business is one of only a handful of linseed paint manufacturers in Europe. The business’s client list includes a string of stately homes such as Chatsworth House, as well as the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate.

Brouns & Co has also more than doubled orders from the US in the last 12 months, with the majority coming from regions such New England, where the maintenance and preservation of historic wooden buildings is a major conservation issue.

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