The Star in Soho is a popular and long established eatery and bar, which has been under the same family ownership for more than 75 years. During the day, it is a bustling traditional café, with a relaxed pre-war look and traditional friendly service. Once the evening begins, however, the Star Café becomes The London Gin Club, a stylish table-service gin bar. Both of the Star’s different guises are very well reviewed and are valued establishments of the busy Soho area.

The Problem

The vaulted basement meeting room of the café had started to suffer from severe penetrating damp, causing major spoilage of the painted brickwork décor and the wooden floor. The situation was exacerbated by recent railway tunnel works happening nearby. The conditions of the basement were such that it was no longer possible to use it for its intended purpose.

The Solution

John Butcher was contacted, as a basement waterproofing expert, to rectify the situation using Oldroyd XV Clear cavity drain membranes and a Sentry sump and pump system. It was decided that a cavity drain system was the best solution because a cementitious system would require the removal of all paint and the application of a render coat, significantly increasing the time and cost of the job.


Basement after waterproofing

The owners of the café wanted to retain the look of the brick work as much as possible, whilst keeping a reasonable ceiling height. To achieve this, the Oldroyd membrane was drylined, using timber battens and plasterboard. Once the plasterboard was in place, brick slips were applied to the lower portion of the wall. These brick slips were pointed to give the appearance of a brickwork wall.




Basement after waterproofing

The rest of the archway was finished with plaster. This combination of plaster and brick slip application meant the room retained a large amount of its vintage character but still kept a useable height. The Oldroyd XV Clear membrane, Aquadrain drainage channel and the Sentry pump system ensure that any water entering the basement is managed and drained properly, protecting the décor. The numerous electric points in the basement were allowed to come through the membrane but then sealed using Oldroyd Overseal Tape.



The Star is now using the basement area again for meetings and private functions. More information is available on their websites, and