The first grant project of the Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Initiative, Blackburn is now well under way. The old Ribblesdale Hotel was built just after 1900 and in more recent times was known as ‘Baroque’ owing to it’s corner dome. It’s really more of a blend of Jacobean and Elizabethan features in a busy style made popular by the Victorian architect of London’s Palace Theatre, Thomas Edward Collcutt (1840-1924), who also designed Blackburn Museum not so far away.
Despite the attention of lead thieves, the roof and structural work is now largely done and we are turning to the restoration of the decorative features, elements which express a whole range of traditional building crafts.
The two dormers are topped by panels of ornamental plaster pargetting set into the gables. This is a traditional rural craft popular in the east of England, though I have seen a surviving historic example in Lancashire. It was revived in Victorian times by the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Unfortunately, our two two panels have been crudely over-painted in gloss paint which has trapped in moisture and led to heavy deterioration of the plaster and its canvas backing. After some consideration, we have decided to go down the restoration route, rather than attempt a repair, and Blackburn master plasterer Karl Claydon has very kindly taken on the job of producing accurate replicas at short notice.
The contract administrator is Andrew Davies of Blackburn with Darwen Council and the main contractor is Rosslee Construction of Accrington.