Austin Grady Retires

Photograph: John Miller (Director HTNW), Peter Taylor (Friends of Bank Hall, Chorley), Austin Grady and David Parfitt (CSNW).

Austin Grady, who has headed up Conservation Services North West (CSNW) for the last ten years, has finally decided the attractions of retirement can no longer be ignored!

Austin has led several important conservation projects in his time at CSNW, including the heroic saving of Tonge Hall, Middleton (listed grade II*) after a devastating fire which left it in a critically unstable condition.

Tonge Hall repair works 2015

Working alongside surveyor Alan Gardner, and operating from a cherry picker, Austin skilfully deconstructed the tangled and dangerous mess of the half-collapsed timber frame hall. He carefully logged and stored the constituent parts before carrying out exemplary carpentry repairs to the main structure, leaving the stabilised building protected by a scaffold cage.
Other notable projects include the restoration of the derelict former King’s Head PH, Blackburn (grade II listed), another building on the point of collapse, and the repair and conservation of Lomeshaye Bridge Mill in Whitefield Conservation Area, Nelson, Bank Hall, Bretherton (listed grade II*) and Lytham Hall (listed grade I).

Former King’s Head PH, Blackburn

Conservation Services NW, which is the building arm of Heritage Trust for the NW (HTNW), will greatly miss Austin’s conservation skills, commitment and all round professionalism. We wish him a great retirement!

Durham’s ‘pitman’s parliament’, a monument of industrial heritage, saved from ruin

Durham’s ‘pitman’s parliament’, a monument of industrial heritage, saved from ruin

Header photo: Stan Adie

New Edgar Wood and Arts & Crafts Movement Website

Over the last twelve months I have been working with architectural photographer Andy Marshall, website creator Anna Morris of Gingerling Design and project administrator, Maureen Glynn building a website for the Edgar Wood Society, after we made a successful Lottery Heritage Fund bid in late 2018.

Our aim is to build an online resource about Manchester’s finest Arts & Crafts architect and the work of the Northern Art Workers Guild which he founded. It’s early days but we now have the online infrastructure in place including the beginnings of an image compendium which Andy and Anna have created.

You can see the website here…

Old Map of Huncoat

A Hyndburn Councillor brought in an enormous old land map of Huncoat near Accrington today. It was so big we had to lay it on the floor, to great hilarity.

We plan to copy it in sections and digitally stitch them together. It will form part of the background to the Huncoat Garden Village proposal.

Huncoat is Hyndburn’s oldest settlement and is recorded in the Domesday Book.

Kimberley Hall, Combs, Suffolk

It’s nice, now and again, to engage and assist with historic buildings somewhere away from home, in my case outside of the North-West. Kimberley Hall is a moated hall and farmstead in mid Suffolk.
The site has a wonderful old world charm encouraged by the sensitive management of the historic fabric. The approach is firmly ‘minimum intervention’, something seen less often these days. I particularly like the way some surfaces are simply left rather than repaired or restored (see below). Some of the surfaces haven’t changed in over a century and you are taken back to when the buildings were part of the farmed landscape.
Kimberley Hall is the home of a surveyor and a potter and their joint appreciation and care of the of the buildings has done much to conserve a time-worn aesthetic. The smaller of the two Suffolk barns, being derelict, was restored to a holiday cottage. See…
It’s a good place to stay if you are visiting the area.

Continue reading “Kimberley Hall, Combs, Suffolk”

Sweetheart Abbey

I was passing New Abbey, near Dumfries, late this afternoon and, just before the light went completely, I stopped to see the preservation work to the tower of Sweetheart Abbey and generally marvel at this wonderful structure.

The work is being carried out by Historic Environment Scotland and has been going on for quite awhile, two years or so from memory. I understand that it is mostly masonry consolidation to make the tower safe. It’s a magnificent ruin and it’s good to see HES taking their time on it.

Further information about the monument, including a heritage statement are here…

Conserving a Great Building – Unusual heritage values

There are three earlier posts in this series. See…

Sometimes one needs courage in conservation because great buildings can lead those who conserve them to uncomfortable places.

The post-construction stories of great historic buildings usually involve the gradual removal of distinction and the slow erosion of individuality. The mundane begins to take over. Relatively recent buildings consciously created as works of art, such as those by the Arts & Crafts Movement or the Classical or Gothic Revival can suffer the most. Older structures have much more complex histories with many phases and are therefore somewhat different. Continue reading “Conserving a Great Building – Unusual heritage values”