Maintaining precise temperature and humidity levels to protect its extensive artefact collection, while keeping energy costs and emissions down at its award winning Downland Gridshell Building, were key requirements for the management at the Weald Down Open Air Museum when selecting a replacement for an inefficient old boiler serving the building’s underfloor heating system.

Their choice was an ATAG Q60S condensing combination boiler, one of the most efficient light commercial boilers on the market, supplied by Chichester-based ATAG Heating UK.

‘The new boiler will ensure the correct level of relative humidity within our artefact store for the continued wellbeing of the important collections housed there,’
said Guy Viney, Gridshell Manager.

“We needed a boiler with a track record of efficiency, longevity and reliability, with affordable running costs,” he said. “Guided by our heating engineer Damien Lindley and Robin Osborne from ATAG and following testimonials from colleagues within the heritage industry, we felt confident that ATAG would fulfill all these requirements.”

In line with the overall ethos of the museum, environmental issues were also top of the agenda in their choice of boiler. The Q60S delivers strongly in this aspect with what ATAG believes to be the lowest NOx emissions in its class at below 30ppm.
With an output up to 57.3kW, the Q60S features ATAG’s tried and tested 316 stainless steel heat exchanger technology currently used throughout their boiler range, and gives a class leading efficiency of 109.3% (EN677) achieved through seamless upwards modulation. This enables the boiler to deliver precisely the amount of heat required any one time to preserve the artefacts, while ensuring maximum efficiency and lower energy costs for the museum.

All models in the Q Series have 3 BREEAM points for their excellent energy saving credentials and low emissions. Easy to install and occupying a small footprint, Q Series boilers are well proven in the marketplace and have an enviable reputation for their ease of servicing and reliability. Reliability was a key factor, as the correct humidity levels have to be maintained 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Downland Gridshell itself is an award winning building, combining traditional materials and 21st Century technology. The building is on two levels with the basement housing the museum’s unique collection of tools and artefacts, while the upper deck  is a workshop and layout space for building  conservation and training.

A lightweight structure made of oak laths similar in construction to the fuselage of the famous World War II Wellington bomber, a cross section of which is also displayed at the museum, the Gridshell was completed in 2002 with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Artefacts on display include an extensive and unique collection of traditional carpentry, plumbing and blacksmithing tools.

The Museum’s 40-acre site in the heart of the South Downs National park incorporates 50 exhibition buildings with many of the houses on show furnished to recreate historic domestic interiors. Buildings include workers’ cottages, shops, farmhouses, barns and even a church. Many have been rescued from demolition or from simply falling down, then dismantled, conserved and painstakingly rebuilt.

“Preserving and stimulating interest in buildings of architectural or historical interest and the ancient crafts and trades that go into them is our prime objective,” said Museum Director, Richard Pailthorpe. “We have over 120,000 visitors every year, including those staying in the area and as a registered charity rely on a veritable army of volunteers to ensure the highest standards of care for our collections.”

There is a regular programme of domestic and craft demonstrations, including cooking in a Tudor kitchen; milling flour in a fully working watermill; blacksmithing in a Victorian smithy and other seasonal demonstrations and events.

Full details of this unique museum can be found at or by phoning 01243 811363.