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Issues in Historic Building Conservation

Construction Technology and Rehabilitation

Referring to specific case studies this newspaper aims to research attitudes towards the preservation and recovery of historic complexes and the affects and constraints which can impact the development of such properties.

Why keep?

Many complexes are either deserted by their owners when the price of recovery becomes too great, or demolished when the lesser expense of a new development and its own saleability are of higher appeal. The continuing future of historic buildings depends not only on individuals or governing physiques that own them, but also on organizations such as English History that list and protect structures from development and raise public consciousness through schemes including the 'Blue Plaque' structure (www. english-heritage. org). The relatively recent excitement for television programmes about restoration also have helped heighten awareness. As Philip Wilkinson phrases it:

'Old complexes form strong links with days gone by (. . . ) to historians and archaeologists they are really treasured documents, unlocking information about the life span, art, aspirations, and technology of individuals who built them and used them. ' (Wilkinson: 2005, p. 13)

Long-term preservation can drastically increase the market of a location. For example, Shower and North East Somerset which is famous for its Georgian and stone buildings generates a huge revenue through travel and leisure as a result of efforts taken to conserve its wealthy heritage. The trouble often proves a deterrent - but in the case of either private land owners or council owned properties English History and other such organisations including the Funds for Historical Structures (www. ffhb. org. uk) can offer financial aid in the form of grants, tax comfort, and subsidised loans.

Safety, Security and Assessment

'The George Inn' - a mediaeval Inn, five mls south of Bath tub, held by the Wadworth family, was restored in 1998 by Stansell Conservation, West Country Tiling, under the route of Acanthus associates, Ferguson Mann Architects. (http://www. buildingconservation. com/articles/george/george. htm). A significant area of the building was unoccupied and unusable, and the task was to conserve and repair, then switch the pub into a little hotel with 12 sleeping rooms and ensuite bathing rooms.

Being of large timber framed composition with complex stonework and huge rock slate roofs, the techniques needed to be chosen carefully. Other things to consider were considered; such as its archaeological exploration, and sticking with the fire-safety requirements of creating hotel accommodation. The original plan depended on the creation of accommodation on the top floor of the main building: however, the provision of an alternative means of escape would have engaged major interventions to the building which means this plan was improved:

Fire safety provided problems as the stair tower had to be protected from smoke and flames in case of a fire. The typical solution, wired goblet entry doors on either area of the stairs, could have had a devastating impact on the character of the interior. The answer was to cover the fire doorways in the walls so that they could not be seen when open, and fit them with electro magnetic catches so that they would close automatically when a fire is diagnosed. (http://www. buildingconservation. com/articles/george/george. htm).

Factors to consider in the conservation of constructions not only concern the building itself but also the area surrounding it. The situation of the George Inn, on the pavement of your busy main neighborhood, caused potential hazard from falling stone slates and maintenance access was severely limited. The scaffolding to the front had to be cantilevered out in a 'complex, engineer-designed composition. ' It was therefore made a decision to decide on a high specification and every component of the roof covering covering was considered carefully. Short term works are often needed during assignments either since there is a risk that a structure might usually collapse or because it is necessary to eliminate some vital helping member for renewal or alteration. In situations such as this it is vital that the know-how of experienced architects and surveyors is desired in order to avoid unnecessary damage or alteration to the building therefore errors can be irreparable.

It is valuable to truly have a detailed specification for any particular project, bearing in mind that an historical building's most significant value is the materials out which it is manufactured. Risk examination and security studies will be needed. Historic buildings can often harbour valuable treasures and can be vulnerable during building types of procedures; hence systems such as security lighting, CCTV and alarms may need installing on the website.


Rehabilitation projects require working directly with others - progress depending on the reliability of contractors who could potentially go into receivership or resign. When legal matters are participating sites can often rest dormant until they can be resolved.

In some situations it is likely that legislative procedures will clash. For instance, a fire break free at the top floor of the Inn might have impinged upon feasible planning procedures for your age and kind of building. More very seriously, the report on a property will not guarantee its safety. The English History stipulates that the goal of listing is to give a building 'statutory coverage against unauthorised demolition, alteration or expansion. ' (www. english-heritage. org). Demolition or considerable alteration may be approved on a house if it becomes 'de-listed' - however this usually only occurs if new evidence about the architectural or historic interest is uncovered or if considerable fire damage occurs. Decisions on the nature of works completed on historic complexes normally be based upon Listed Building Control which allows for the modification of proposals to alter or demolish the building. Sometimes planning permission can be awarded and stated building consent refused: and unless both are approved then development cannot continue. As Michael Ross says in his publication on Planning and the Traditions:

The emphasis is on conservation alternatively than preservation. Oftentimes, both will be synonymous, but in others, the emphasis will not be on keeping the building as it is at all costs, however in ensuring that its life is assured and lengthened in a way that will not ruin its special interest. That means oftentimes that you will see an equilibrium to be struck between your value of the old and the needs of the new. In others, no balance will be possible and consent should be refused. (Ross: 1996, p. 92)

If a building is not covered for legal reasons and adjustments have the potential to seem unsightly or too radical in their design, then your Local Planning Expert use their discretion as to set up software should be approved. In the case of Manor Plantation, Over Haddon, (www. peakdistrict. org/ctte/planning/accounts/2005) demolition and development of outbuildings - themselves not placed - but next to a posted farmhouse, into office complexes and a car area was refused as the proposal was seen to earnestly harm the setting up and character of the posted building and the type of the Haddon conservation area.

Time, Methods, and Materials

Many historic complexes require constant attention over time. For example, the Mediaeval Tithe Barn in Bradford-on-Avon was at a bad status of repair in 1914 and directed at the Wiltshire Archaeological Culture. Due to the conflict only 400 could be allocated to necessary repairs which failed to eliminate the reason behind decay. (Ministry of Works, 1953). In July 1939 the Archaeological Population handed it to the Ministry of Works, and by 1975 all decaying timber in the roof structure trusses have been substituted, with the dangerously leaning north wall rebuilt. (Office of the surroundings Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings, 1975). Rebuilding a building can be a monumental job and requires sufficient research and investment in order to complete the project. Furthermore, damage limitation must be looked at: if a building is having structural vehicle repairs then parts - such as fragile roof structure timbers - shouldn't be subjected to the elements any longer than absolutely necessary, usually further problems might occur.

Suitable materials have to be used, for example, lime mortar was mostly found in old structures as it allowed versatility within the structure. The modern cement mortar could be devastating as not only is it visibly different, but it's harder uniformity would restrict the movement of an building.

The cleaning and fixes of the 'Circus' buildings in Bathtub during 1987 (Tindall: 1989) noted painstaking care in the early stonework and close examination of the damage caused by acid rainfall. Problems happened during cold weather where repairs needed to be protected with dried out natural cotton wool which offered sufficient insulation to avoid damage. Conservation and cleaning of stonework is a fragile process, and requires the endurance and experience of skilled personnel. Compared to the number of individuals who practise modern building methods there is a shortage of proficient masons, thus, as Hunter phrases it, there is' a difference between the trained mason and the trained conservator. ' (Hunter:1980). Furthermore, this sort of issue - between traditional and modern methods - arises in the function of the historical building itself. Many traditional plantation buildings are empty, allowed to get into mess up or demolished because they can no longer fulfil the purpose for which they were built. (Brunskill:1999, p. 147). Such structures can frequently be redeemed by switching them to home use, although this poses other problems such as the requirements of rooftop lights, windows, bath rooms and backyards which can all impinge upon the original character of the building.

Conservation and repair work requires forethought and attention to detail; qualities that are not always promoted in today's society. Keeping positive behaviour towards conservation is almost as essential as the task itself, and with extended education and investment the futures of historical buildings have become a lot more secure.


Brunskill, R. W. , 1999, 3rd Ed. , Traditional Farm Structures of Britain and their Conservation. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.

Department of the surroundings Old Monuments and Historic Complexes, 1975, The Medieval Tithe Barn, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. Edinburgh: HMSO Press.

Hunter, D. , 1990, Bathtub Rock in Building: It's use, repair and conservation. Bathtub City Council.

Ross, M. , 1996, Planning and the Traditions: Insurance policy and Techniques. London: Spon Press

Ministry of Works, 1953, The Mediaeval Tithe Barn. West Bromich: Joseph Wones Ltd.

Tindall, L. , 1989, Conservation in Bathroom, Four Studies (offprint from ASCHB). Vol. 14. Bath City Council.

Wilkinson, P. , 2005, Repair, the story proceeds. . . . . Bath: English Traditions.

www. buildingconservation. com/articles/george/george. htm

www. english-heritage. org

www. ffhb. org. uk

www. peakdistrict. org/ctte/planning/reviews/2005

Further Reading

Orbaёl±, A. , 2000, Travellers in Historic Towns: Urban Conservation and History Management. London: E & FN Spon.

Stuchbury, H. E. , 1973, Conservation and Development of the Historical Buildings of Bath. Journal of Planning and Environment Laws, Jun 1973.

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