A Little bit about me...

I'm a Structural Engineer, specialising in conservation, at Hurst Peirce + Malcolm in London. I don't wear tweeds, am not particularly "cultured" and I'm not that old, but I do care passionately about the conservation of old buildings. I am a Chartered Structural Engineer, a member of The SPAB (formerly on the founding committee of the reborn Berks, Bucks & Oxon Regional Group), a Friend of SAVE Britain's Heritage and have recently completed a PD Diploma in conservation at West Dean College, with a view to achieving CARE accreditation. I hope to give you regular updates on my trials and tribulations as well as some insight into projects I am involved with and things I believe in.

Be patient with me - I'm no writer and I'm normally up to my eyeballs at work........

All views expressed here are my own.

Hurst Peirce + Malcolm, Celtic House, 33 John's Mews, Holborn, London WC1N 2QL

07854 624692 - richardsalmon9@gmail.com


Sunday, 13 February 2011

Our Georgian Adventure - Part 2

Welcome back to the Dunham Estate and this time, the Walled Garden. Built c.1800 and Grade II Listed in its own right, this is a rare example of a 'D' shaped walled enclosure of exactly 1 acre internally, but was probably modelled on the much larger Westacre walled garden nearby. The curved wall section reflects the sun's daily journey across the sky, allowing more exotic flora of the time to be grown. Historic map data indicates that the original "formal" garden was apparently divided into a simple quadrant layout of pathways dividing the planting beds.

The brief here again was to carry out only necessary repairs to ensure the integrity of the wall itself and attached structures (glasshouse and stovehouse). Once again R&J Hogg were used as specialist conservation contractors. This project was part funded by an HLS (Higher Level Stewardship) Grant from Natural England, as part of an estate-wide landscape management strategy. The Client's intention is to attract a Nurseryman to create a commercial organic nursery as well as creating a visitor attraction (a pre-requisite of the HLS grant). Negotiations are still in progress, hence no landscaping works yet!

Walled Garden Before

Walled Garden After

The existing greenhouse, we think from the 1930's, needing to be replaced, but leaving us with no real precedent to follow

Our new glasshouse. Full of genuine Georgian detailing (lapped, scalloped glass etc), not my personal choice, but client led. I would have preferred a simpler (gable-free) lean-to structure, such as those at Holkham Hall, but there you go...

One of two fin walls, built to act as further sun traps. Fig trees were found still active in these traps. Unfortunately, due to excessive foundation settlement and structural dilapidation it was decided to rebuild these fin walls on new deeper foundations to get down below desiccation from root action.

The most common problems: Moisture penetration and plant growth damage at high level and different degrees of weathering at low level. Overall though, the wall was still very sound and structurally stable with minimal cracking etc.

An example of the more severe weathering at low level. We only replaced bricks where depth of weathering exceeded 75mm. Elsewhere clever pointing techniques were adopted to ensure that no water-traps (flat surfaces) could occur.
The pock marks all round the wall, we were led to believe were due to 200 years of Gamekeeper's buckshot and trellising nails rather than masonry bees!

Plant penetration went particularly deep in some places. We had no option but to pick apart the upper courses, remove the live root systems and rebuild re-using the existing bricks.

New copings in Portland stone only where existing lost or beyond repair. The Conservation officer did not want a dpc installed but we successfully argued for some slate strips beneath coping joints to give a little extra protection from infiltration.

A (nearly) finished section of wall. Re-bedding and re-pointing all done in 1:2 lime putty mortar. We found Bleaklow's "Course stuff" ready-mix a very good match to the existing. Previous cement pointing removed only where easily done. Replacement bricks, where needed - soft Norfolk reds - were sourced from a dilapidated cartshed elsewhere on the estate.

The Stovehouse, as we found it. This building housed the stove which heated the greenhouse and was also presumably used for propagation of seeds etc. Brought back to life with a small number of secret structural repairs and a bit of TLC.

The Stovehouse finished. All doors, windows and internal features retained and refurbished, including stove and brick pammet floor. Many of the  roof timbers were saved.

East Gate as existing. Core structure ok, just needing some clever surface repairs and a bit of bespoke ironmongery.

Refurbished East gate and new pump house (existing fresh water borehole under manhole cover which will be used for irrigation and may pump water up to the Lodge if proved potable after testing).

New West Gates. We believe the original opening here was similar to the East gate but had been much widened by the time we got there. Precendent for the iron gates came from the back yard of the Lodge.

Just did a bit of tidying up to the existing field ditch system. New crossovers utilised "bagwork" headwalls to match others on site. They look like sandbags but are actually hessian bags filled with wet concrete and pinned together with steel rods making a good, solid retaining wall. Clever, eh?