Nice to see Newton Hall again today

Nice to be at Newton Hall, Hyde, Cheshire again. This is a medieval cruck hall dated 1380 which was restored in the late 1960s.

Controversially, it has a big glass box on one side illuminating the interior. Was this the first ugly glass box on an historic building? If so, it set a trend that is now half a century old – can glass boxes really claim to be modern any more?

Recording work was carried out in the 1990s when I was the local conservation officer and more recently there were substantial excavations in 2008 and 2012.

The 1960s restoration was prior to the reintroduction of lime mortars and today there are problems with inflexible cement-based wall panels leaking where they join the structural timbers. Inside, you can see daylight around some of the panels. The Hall has other problems too including the failure of its thatched roof. The 1960s restoration was truly visionary but has reached a point now where it needs repairing and a new lease of life.

Between homelessness and the FT’s How to Spend It, our culture has completely lost its way

Between homelessness and the FT’s How to Spend It, our culture has completely lost its way

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/commentisfree/2019/jun/12/between-homelessness-and-the-fts-how-to-spend-it-our-culture-has-completely-lost-its-way?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_WordPress

Old Ribblesdale Hotel, Blackburn, restored

It took a while but now that the scaffold is down, the newly restored Ribblesdale looks lovely. The attractive colour scheme was a result of the careful analysis of the fabric and paint layers and is exactly as it was when the hotel first opened. It shows that the Victorian’s could use colour well and the overall design now feels harmoniously balanced. Great credit goes to the Blackburn with Darwen Council team and the Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Initiative which brought this conservation scheme about. Click the image opposite to enlarge.

Old Ribblesdale Hotel, Blackburn

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.

IHBC NW 2018 AGM – Middleton, Manchester

Yesterday (15th November), Greater Manchester Building Preservation Trust hosted the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) NW annual general meeting at Long Street Methodist, the Arts & Crafts Church of Middleton, Manchester. This has recently been restored via a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Project architect, Lisa Mcfarlane of Seven Architecture, and myself led the afternoon event and there was a large turnout of around 40 members. We began with a talk about, Edgar Wood, the Arts & Crafts modernist who built the church in 1899, followed by a tour of the famous Middleton Golden Cluster of heritage buildings. Continue reading “IHBC NW 2018 AGM – Middleton, Manchester”