Whilst the project commenced a couple of months ago, my site visit to the second phase of the Wellington Square project today involved both a visit to the newly completed first phase of the project, posted here and a site inspection of the second phase, with the vast difference between the two leading to thoughts of just how far there is to go and the number of hurdles to overcome. The photograph below sums it up…old and decrepit fabric, early days of stripping back and revealing all sorts of hidden surprises, double checking drawings against what is revealed and finalising discussions on works packages.
The component of working on listed buildings that never fails to bring a surprise or three is something known as ‘discovery’ and I thought it might be an interesting topic for those involved with listed buildings to ponder. Discovery is, as the name suggests, the discovery of hidden building features with the subsequent efforts required to accommodate the discovery. On this particular building, we discovered the vertical sliding mechanism for a large door that we thought slid horizontally, concealed between two layers of timber frame. We had to discuss the discovery with the conservation officer, as it was such an unusual feature, but it was agreed that the project could proceed as planned, since the feature could not reasonably be preserved. In another area, we discovered that there was no window behind some boarding, which necessitated the design and fabrication of a new timber sliding sash window. In yet another area, we discovered that brick vaults in the basement, planned to be retained while the walls below were removed, actually only comprised a single skin of brick. Liaison with the structural engineer and CDM coordinator highlighted the fact that the vaults could not safely be retained and a new approach was required.
One of the benefits of being passionate about working with historic buildings is being able to overcome the frustration that can surround discovery. Looking forward, over the coming months, it appears likely that every ounce of passion and enthusiasm will be called upon for this particular project!
If you are considering working on a listed building or have any queries about the points raised above, please do not hesitate to get in touch.