H+R have been invited to appear on TV again courtesy this time of Sam the Rothound. Filming took place at Glasgow School of Art. The transmission date will be in the next couple of months as part of The One Show programme on BBC one.
Furthering H+R connections with London Boroughs, H+R undertook a series of specialist surveys covering ground and surface drainage, condensation risk analysis, retained moisture management and timber condition at the oldest building in Southall which is the fine Tudor Southall Manor in the High Street.
H+R also undertook dilapidation surveys at Clarence House in Brighton and provided a raft of investigations on a refurbishment and conversion project at Ravensbourne House in Kent.
As well as historic buildings, H+R are regularly instructed to investigate building defects that have become apparent on new build projects. In February, specialist consultancy was provided on failure to engineered oak floor boarding and also decay to cross laminated timber on separate apartment block schemes in London.
One of the H+R North West team was astounded to find an ‘inland sea’ of accumulated water on the flat roof of a Victorian mill building in Manchester to a depth of 6 inches. It was apparently akin to an infinity pool and covered a quarter of an acre. The imposed load must been very significant.
A Happy New Year to all those interested in H+R!
January has proved to be more of a retrospective month in relation to project work. While new enquiries and discussions about prospective schemes have been incessant, there has been time to catch up with outstanding investigative consultancy around the country. Input has ranged geographically from updating environmental monitoring systems at Bodmin Town Hall, to an overall wood boring insect infestation risk management report on a Jacobean mansion outside Dorking to undertaking a survey to conform to the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) Guidance note 20 for Caird Hall in Dundee. In the month, we completed the snagging investigations on the contemporary structures at the Winchester University Student Village and have been providing scientific environmental monitoring and analysis on two major schemes in West London. Of particular interest was the appointment to advise on mould growth on a unique example of vernacular architecture in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Netley’s annual Christmas Tree ritual was observed with all hands helping to erect a 24-foot specimen from a neighbouring estate. It now acts as a splendid focal point for the whole office.
Extensive investigations and consultancy concerning persistent damp related problems have commenced for the National Trust at Ham House and Osterley Park. This follows similar involvement for them at Wimpole Hall and Blickling Hall in previous years. The surveys will utilise a wide range of analytical and monitoring techniques. Exactly opposite Ham House as it faces the River Thames, is the surviving banqueting house of Orleans House manged by Richmond Council. The magnificently decorated interiors have also been investigated by H+R during the month as part of the ‘Transforming Orleans House’ project. From Orleans House looking up river, the splendid façade of the former Royal Star and Garter Home can also clearly be seen on Richmond Hill. The building is being converted by London Square, and H+R have been heavily involved throughout 2016. In December, H+R undertook drone flights to monitor the progress of repairs to the roofscape. Therefore, coincidently in the space of one month, H+R have been commissioned to work on three Grade I listed buildings within sight of each other by three very different clients in the fields of commercial redevelopment, heritage and cultural education. A good reflection of H+R’s broad experience and reputation in the field of conservation
North Office Autumn 2016
H+R Northern team have been pleased to assist our clients Muse Developments, the structural engineers, Clancy Consulting, the main contractors Eric Wright and the project managers Morgan Sindall with the successful rehabilitation of approximately forty timber-framed waterside dwellings at Islington Wharf in Ancotes Manchester http://www.islingtonwharf.co.uk/. Islington Wharf is an innovative 21st Century canal-side development project which adds to H+R’s already fulsome portfolio of involvement with strategically important canal-side building regeneration projects radiating from Manchester’s Piccadilly Basin spanning over some two decades. The 1806 Carver’s Warehouse on Dale St is the most historic.
Staying with Manucian early industrial canal-side buildings, H+R Northern have been pleased to assist clients Urban Splash Developments along with Civic Engineers and Architects Stephenson Studio in the repurposing of Grade II Brownsfield Mill, Ancotes. H+R originally assisted Town Centre Securities conserve this historically important building in 2006-07, providing the information required to effectively ‘mothball’ the extensive timber structures and to repair the building envelope. Interestingly the building housed AV Roe’s first aero engineering workshop in 1910 before the name ‘Avro’ was born. http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/business/property/urban-splash-announces-plans-northern-11718064
East Office Autumn 2016
Dr David Watt (Associate Director) provided consultancy services to Binham Parochial Church Council for works to the Priory Church of St Mary and the Holy Cross at Binham in Norfolk during 2016. The remaining nave of what was a cruciform building with central crossing tower forms the parish church and the remains of the claustral buildings are in the guardianship of English Heritage. The west front of the church dates from between 1226 and 1244 and its window is considered to hold the earliest example of bar tracery in England with brick blocking inserted in 1809. David was involved previously at Binham Priory with the repair and conservation of the gatehouse and precinct walls on behalf of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and the north aisle on behalf of Binham Parochial Church Council.
Works to the church this year included the repair of masonry and brick window blocking to the west front, conservation of decayed stonework to south aisle windows, works to an access stairway, repair of cracking to an internal clerestory window and modification of internal lighting.
Repairs to the upper parts of the west front were undertaken by a specialist roped-access conservation team, with still and video recording of the fabric before and after repair allowing for confirmation and certification of scheduled works. Use of roped-access operatives for this delicate work meant that scaffolding could be limited to a single lift at the base of the elevation, which provided a safe route for the congregation and visitors into the church as well as giving a stable working platform for replacement of decayed Barnack mouldings. Roped-access was also used as the preferred method of working for changes to internal lighting at clerestorey and gallery levels.
The repair and conservation of heritage assets requires meticulous planning, management and implementation, and the use of skilled roped-access operatives offers advantages in certain situations over more familiar approaches.
The month of November saw the annual return of H+R to the Historic Houses Association AGM and exhibition. It was an opportunity for new members of staff recruited in the year to meet the wider conservation community and the H+R stand featured Wilson the Rothound, the uprated drone and presentations on newly developed survey techniques.
H+R would like to congratulate the winners in various categories of the Building Awards 2016, announced in the month. We are fortunate to work with a wide range of leading and award winning and highly recommended practitioners such as AKT II, Aecom, Arcadis, Bennetts Associates (Architectural Practice of the Year), Berkeley Group, Carillion, Crest Nicholson, Curtins, Eckersley O’Callaghan (Engineering Consultants of the Year), Great Portland Estates, Keltbray (Specialist Contractor of the Year), Latitude Architects, Mace, Redrow, Scott Brownrigg, WSP, Walter Lilly (Contractor of the Year) and Wates (Major Contractor of the Year)
Noteworthy project work in the month included Twyford Abbey – an 1800s ‘Gothik’ mansion which has been rescued just in time prior to complete failure, Toynbee Hall – the famous centre for social concern in the East End of London, Pennington Street Warehouse, Docklands – the longest 18th century warehouse in the world, Little Sodbury Manor and Burghly House.
A significant investment in the month involved the purchase of a specialist working dog transit vehicle to facilitate transport of the Rothound pack. The comfort and welfare of the Rothounds is paramount.
Of note in the month was the drawing to a close of H+R’s six year involvement on the huge King’s Cross Basin redevelopment reporting to Argent as the developer and BAM as the contractor. It has been a privilege to witness the complete regeneration of what was until relatively recently, a very run-down and dilapidated part of London. Over the years, H+R have undertaken specialist investigations and consulted on many buildings on the project, the principal ones being:
- Granary Square (Central Saint Martins)
- Coal Drops Yard (a commercial and retail space by Heatherwick Studio – Architects)
- Fish and Coal Offices (Jamie Oliver Group)
- German Gymnasium (D&D Restaurant Group)
- Great Northern Hotel (Tribute Portfolio Hotels)
H+R are regularly asked whether they will undertake specialist investigations on small domestic properties for private clients and the answer is always, yes! Our innovative surveying methodology and philosophy of retention rather than replacement and also avoidance of unnecessary, expensive and inappropriate chemical treatments and proprietary products is applicable to buildings great and small and of any age. To put this domestic-scale work into context, we work on five or six such projects a month all over the UK especially when clients require risk management advice prior to purchase.
H+R contributed another technical article to the soon to be published 2017 Building Conservation Directory. This very useful resource has been published by Cathedral Communications since 1993 and has a wide audience.
H+R have also featured in Classic Alfa Magazine during the month which goes to show our interests extend to the mechanical as well as to the architectural.
Projects of interest in the month include Orleans House Gallery (London Borough of Richmond), 106 Piccadilly (Minerva Education), Twyford Abbey (Twyford Abbey LLP), the Old Archdeaconry in Rochester, Derby Magistrates Court and Little Sodbury Manor.
The recent release of the Heritage at Risk register by Historic England includes several buildings currently involving H+R including Wythenshawe Hall featured in the H+R Northern Offices report in August and also Twyford Abbey.
A wider range of project work was undertaken in September with H+R’s specialist advice being sought on remediation of damp and mould issues affecting a severely fire damaged building for Bristol University. This involvement partners our on-going project work for Bristol City Council at the fire damaged Ashton Court
An appointment early in the month to undertake a Stage 1 overall risk management survey for retained moisture and structural timber condition in Grosvenor Crescent, London has now meant that an extraordinary total of nineteen properties in Grosvenor Crescent have been investigated by H+R over the last four years for a variety of diplomatic, private and developer clients
H+R undertook specialist condensation risk analysis and damp penetration investigations for a new national developer client on a listed mansion project in Peterborough to support the pragmatic discharge of Building Warranty provider conditions
Other refurbishment projects of interest in London include Westminster Fire Station, Trinity Almshouses, which purports to be the first building to be listed in the country, Apothecaries Hall and Wellington House Hotel. Elsewhere we have undertaken environmental monitoring at Nottingham Exchange Arcade and surveyed The Old Palace in Worthing and the Unity Building in Birmingham. H+R have also investigated significant latent defects in a modular new build school in Richmond.
We were delighted that the architects for Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery have been awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize for best building of the year. H+R’s specialist involvement in support of the team led by Caruso St John extended over several months
A further new graduate surveyor staff member joined H+R in the month with a background in material testing, timber science and structural and timber engineering
Northern Offices Summer 2016
H+R Northern offices are currently providing specialist consultancy and practical advice on a diverse range of building pathology issues affecting historic buildings and new-build projects
Wythenshawe Hall an Elizabethan Hall besieged by Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops in the winter of 1643 (and more recently by an arsonist) suffered a major fire in March. Resultant water penetration from the badly damaged roof threatened the historic timber structures, the panelled rooms and fine plaster ceilings. The properties of the ancient English Oak used in the main hall have not surprisingly proved robust. H+R Rothound Sam was deployed on site in July and will probably revisit later in the year as part of the management strategy for damage limitation and repair
H+R are assisting Laing O’Rourke and other major developers on contemporary timber framed buildings for hospital, educational and multi-occupancy urban regeneration schemes on Teeside and in Greater Manchester. H+Rs skills in defect detection and in the planning of strategic remediation are being used to maintain continued building use and to maximise asset value retention
In York, H+R are providing advice on conservation and refurbishment of the graceful crescent of St Leonard’s Place overlooking York’s spectacular Minster and undergoing a £25M redevelopment as luxury homes. A little further south in Yorkshire, H+R have continued to provide specialist advice on the repair and management of timber and masonry structures in Robert Adam’s Nostell Priory
In the centre of Edinburgh, works to repair and refurbish Henry Playfair’s 18th century masterpiece, the Law Schools building, is progressing with advice on the repair and retention of historic timber structures from H+R
In Derby, H+R are providing specialist risk management investigations on the decorative plaster ceilings to the Grade II listed Magistrates Court
In Nottingham, H+R are installing an environmental monitoring system at the Exchange Arcade to assist with monitoring water ingress behind some hand painted murals
At Holme Eden Hall, Cumbria where the lower ground floors were inundated by the nearby River Eden in the winter of 2015/16, H+R Rothounds Sam and Yan have recently been deployed to assist with the sensitive conservation management of residual moisture and dry rot risks
There has been no apparent let up in the flow of enquiries received during the holiday month of August and counter-intuitively during the current heatwave, much of H+R’s project work has revolved around damp issues, principally in London. Specialist damp investigations for commercial property managers have been undertaken in Oxford Street, St, James’ Street, North Audley Street, Eaton Terrace, King’s Cross, Pelham Crescent, Marylebone High Street, Wells Street and Acton High Street
H+R’s growing involvement in providing consultancy and specialist investigations of facades in support of façade engineers and other design team members has resulted in appointments for a large hotel development in Covent Garden and at an iconic pre-war apartment block in Westminster
Further afield, H+R have been working in Lyme Regis, Chichester, Somerset and Hertfordshire
Of particular interest in the month has been the provision of high level consultancy on the largest vacant property in Hampstead for a commercial agency and also at the Royal Exchange development in Kingston
H+R’s recruitment drive continues and Dr David Watt has received the accolade of being appointed a specialist assessor for the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund
The month has witnessed a renewed recruitment drive with the appointment of additional administrative staff for the Southern and North-Western offices. Interviews and trial days for professionals interested in working for H+R continue and new appointments are anticipated over the next few weeks
Survey work has started at the re-development of the Old Post Office and Telephone Exchange in the centre of Kingston-upon-Thames and H+R have been appointed to work for a materials testing house on a large listed hotel re-development in Lyme Regis. This project and that involving the restoration of a severely fire damaged old inn on Dartmoor, necessitates H+R teams staying away for several days
There has been a return to the Fitzroy Gate development for St. James’ Group, three years after the stage 1 risk management surveys and also to the Queen Anne farmhouse at Graylingwell Park in Chichester for another developers again after an interval of several years. Confidence seems to be growing in the market generally. Investigative work has started in earnest at the Ram Brewery site in Wandsworth
Particular interest in the month was created by a sharp eyed H+R surveyor who picked up on an incised brick giving a very rare authenticated and specific date to the construction of Sir John Soane’s Pitzhanger Manor. H+R are now expanding further into conservation consultancy with the appointment to undertake a historic record report for a Victorian terrace house in Windsor
The National Trust has asked H+R to consult on serious moth infestations to wool insulation material. Dr David Watt in our North-East office has also been re-commissioned to investigate death watch beetle decay at Blickling Hall for the National Trust. H+R have also had three separate commissions from commercial developers for specialist support for three large historic mansion refurbishments which have started at Barrington Court, Hillingdon House, and Wadhurst Manor
H+R monitoring services continue to progress with new systems at Brompton Barracks, King’s Cross Basin and in Cambridge
In the North-West, H+R have commenced investigations at the Hunslet and Victoria Mills and continue investigations at Nostell Priory both supported by Historic England
The Brexit vote result has encouragingly resulted in a significant upswing in new enquiries from corporate and commercial clients who had been delaying decision making over the last month. The market view appears to be settling on the fact that ‘bricks and mortar’ are a relatively secure investment that the UK needs more housing whatever happens and that the devaluation of sterling will heighten the interest of overseas clients. In addition, there is the continuing imperative to care for our historic buildings whether Britain is in or out of the EU. Enquiries have been received from all over the country and not just the south-east
Monitoring systems have been updated at 3-10 Grosvenor Crescent in Belgravia and Windsor Castle. A new but temporary system has been installed at the fire damaged Wythenshaw Hall for Manchester City Council
Education sector clients have generated specialist timber investigations at Warwick School and also at the Old Royal Naval Collage, Greenwich World Heritage Site for the University
Developers have appointed H+R for three significant projects in the month in Wimbledon, Burley-in-Wharfedale and East Sussex
H+R’s growing speciality in providing investigative consultancy for façade retention is gathering pace with further commissions in New Bond Street and Covent Garden
H+R North-East have been commissioned to undertake a series of investigations at the Cathedral Close in Lincoln and for the National Trust. In addition Binham PCC has appointed David Watt to bring together a package of repairs to the west front of Binham Priory which incorporates the earliest English bar tracery, as well as other external and internal works, for completion this year
The Norfolk Archaeological Trust has appointed David Watt to manage the consolidation and repair of the standing precinct walls at Burnham Norton Priory, which follows on from similar work for the Trust at Castle Acre Priory and St Benet’s Abbey. This iconic site, with surviving gatehouse and west church wall, represents an important archaeological resource and the development stage of the project has included archaeological recording and documentation, ecological assessment and structural appraisal of distorted wall sections. Scheduled monument consent has been granted and works are due to commence on site this year
The month began and ended with significant private commissions in Worcestershire and Staffordshire illustrating H+R’s geographical reach into the Midlands. The agents for both properties required risk management and QS information so as to give greater cost certainty on refurbishment and purchase
Projects in the month ranged in size from a 1900s timber framed hut for a small Christian community in Twickenham up to Dover Town Hall. The client team on the latter project also required H+R to provide a condition assessment on some of the original historically important William Burges furniture
In the month, there was also a wide historic time range from an early medieval undercroft in the City of London as well as Windsor Castle – to a contemporary multi-million mansion in St George’s Hill, Weybridge. This property, on strip-out, revealed many latent defects that H+R were tasked to evaluate, despite the structure being only two years old. H+R were also asked to assess failing high value engineered wood flooring in a new 42 storey residential tower in London. ‘All that glitters, is not gold’
There was a welcome return to George III’s King’s Observatory building in Kew to assess timber condition in the original telescope cupola
Of particular interest for H+R’s north-west office was the appointment to provide specialist investigative and consultancy services to the recently fire damaged Wythenshawe Hall outside Manchester. Post fire and flood damage investigative consultancy is an area of long standing H+R expertise
H+R welcomed a new additional member of the survey staff at the end of May. Ben Perl will shortly complete an MSc in Historic Conservation, after earlier degrees in Urban and Environmental Planning and Urban Regeneration and Community Development. He is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and has previously had experience as a commercial surveyor
April showers, sun and snow have made site conditions both pleasant and challenging on various H+R projects during the month
High winds made cherrypicker deployment questionable in relation to the timber condition investigations at the most important and spectacular Thai Buddhist temple in the UK located in Wimbledon. The highly decorated and gilded finishes to the vertiginous timber gables demanded a great deal of discretion when deploying micro-bore drills
More project work in Scotland included damp and decay risk management investigations at Monzie Castle and Kenmore Kirk
The National Trust have appointed H+R as part of the team for the forthcoming major refurbishment of The Vyne and the structural timbers of the roof have now been investigated
H+R have also been appointed to undertake specialist render and penetrating damp investigations at Cherkley Court, until recently the home of the Beaverbrook family, owners of the Daily Express and famed as a bolt hole for Winston Churchill during the war. The Art Deco home cinema where he would watch Charlie Chaplin films is still in-situ together with Lalique glass light fittings
Other project works of particular interest included Gunnersbury Park (one of the largest roofscapes H+R have investigated only exceeded in size by Swaylands House in Kent back in 2002), The Sergeants Mess at Colchester Garrison, Eagle House in Wimbledon, 26 Kensington Gate, Broughton Castle and a listed hostel in Belsize Park!
The month ended with a bang as one of the veteran Beech trees at Netley succumbed to Storm Katie. H+R’s in-house team soon had the air singing with the sound of chainsaws as the entrance drive was cleared. The tree in question would have been a young sapling when Netley itself was gutted by fire in the 1850s
Significant investment in the month included a handheld 3D scanner, a new specialist vehicle for Rothound transport, an upgrading of the website and the imminent appointment of two additional surveyors
The month has seen very significant appointments for H+R including at Gunnersbury Park, one of the grandest Rothschild mansions; Frogmore House in Watford, the finest Queen Anne survivor in the town where the H+R drone has been extensively deployed; Imperial College London, to undertake condition appraisals of the historic plaster; Whitehall, the largest Tudor timber framed survivor in South London and Manchester Metropolitan University, Admin Building in Didsbury
There has been a ‘high level’ theme to the month with not only H+R’s drone in the air but also H+R survey staff utilising their rope access skills at a synagogue in Manchester
A shorter month has not meant any let up in activity with principal survey work focused on our Grade I listed projects at Brocket Hall, where H+R are reporting to two project management firms, and also completion of investigations, at the Temperate House in Kew, at Glasgow School of Art and Apothecaries Hall in the City of London. Our usual heavy involvement in Belgravia continued with new projects at Nos. 2 and 33 Belgrave Square and at South Molton Street
H+R manned a stand at the Listed Property Owners Exhibition in Olympia which served the twin purposes of meeting clients but also liaison with many of the architects and contractors we regularly work with during the year. Wilson the Rothound was a magnet for the children attending the show
During the month, project work has necessitated H+R survey teams staying away from their offices for protracted periods. This included Cardiff where the Royal Infirmary refurbishment required another extensive range of surveys including deployment of H+R’s 3D laser scanner. In addition, a team spent several days on the Isle of Man developing a programme of environmental monitoring and condition assessments of the historic boat ‘Peggy’ and also for Castle Rushen
High profile work in the month included appointment to investigate the Grade 1 Temperate House at Kew-Decimus Burton’s masterpiece. H+R have also been appointed as part of the project team for the major bicentenary refurbishment of the Cambridge Union. ‘High profile’ work of another nature was undertaken early in the month with possibly the most extensive roof finishes condition survey ever undertaken by H+R encompassing the whole of the King’s College campus in Hampstead. This necessitated eight consecutive days in a cherrypicker! H+R’s drone will also be deployed
The increasing demand for H+R’s services has led to a requirement for more specialist surveying staff. Please contact us if you are interested in this exciting opportunity
H+R’s head office at Netley House was bedecked with greenery from the surrounding grounds and a 25 foot Christmas tree brightened up the main hall. At this time of year and into January, the fires are also lit providing a welcome back to the office for survey teams returning from wet and windblown sites. The north-west team now have a new office at The Manor House near Mottram in Longdendale, Hyde which will allow space for expansion
A local project for H+R in Surrey for a national developer involving the conversion of a historically important 17th Century coaching inn has progressed well and H+R are now tasked to liaise with the Conservation Officer. The same developer has now commissioned H+R to undertake surveys of an old mill in Bishops Waltham. Two prospective projects in Kent for another developer have been confirmed including a property called ‘Wee Cottage’ which is anything but. Specialist survey work is now well advanced on both schemes
Early in the month, a further commission at the Albany in Piccadilly, London was undertaken. H+R have been involved with this building for several years. It was converted in 1802 by Henry Holland as a unique development at the time to provide 69 ‘sets’ of small apartments for bachelor gentleman. A cloistered atmosphere prevails and children under 14 are prohibited, but fortunately for H+R Rothounds – not dogs!
Specialist investigation and remedial specification relating to window frames has been the theme of the month with a total of nearly 400 windows individually assessed on three projects to inform the pre-tender process and to conform to the requirements of Conservation Officers. On one highly confidential project, H+R provided measured drawings of the different frames using 3D laser scanners
Within the month, and amongst many other projects of interest, work started and was completed on a series of investigations at Chelsea Barracks Chapel which is the sole remaining building on the site which now incorporates the ‘biggest hole in London’. This project is conveniently placed to our ongoing involvement at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Investigative work has resumed at Sir John Soane’s Pitzhanger Manor as well as the historically significant Ancaster House in Richmond opposite our existing project at the Royal Star and Garter Home
There has been two commissions from the National Trust at Winchester City Mill and Standen House. Specialist investigations and consultancy on reconfiguration has been carried out for the historic shopfront at 65 New Bond Street which is to be moved and re-located as part of the Hanover Square Masterplan involving Crossrail
During November, H+R have attended separate training forums on the use of traditional paint, disaster recovery, sustainable conservation and application of Building Regulations to the heritage sector
Dr David Watt’s CPD presentations for the RIBA have been very well received “Just to thank you again for your most excellent talk, simply quite the best talk on the subject I have ever heard, so clear, logical, sensible and informative”
October has brought glorious sunsets and morning mists to the H+R head office at Netley House. Soon enough fires will be lit in the grates
The Scottish theme of August and September has been continued with Southern office staff having to assist the North-West office to undertake extensive surveys at the David Livingstone Museum in Glasgow and at Riddles Court in Edinburgh. The latter is a very rare survival of 16th Century Edinburgh and was frequented by H+R staff when it used to be the HQ of the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust
After the original contractor at Pitzhanger Manor (see June News) went out of business, the project is back on track with the first H+R surveys due covering the condition of moulded plasterwork
Extensive survey work has been undertaken on a series of residential London projects including 17 Buckingham Gate, 47 Norland Square and 6 Bloomsbury Square
One of H+R’s imminent projects, the old Co-op building in Hanover Square, Manchester has been extensively damaged by fire in the last week and therefore H+R are sadly likely to be providing their additional expertise in this specialist area again
The state visit of the Chinese President at the end of October coincided with H+R project work in Pall Mall and adjacent to Buckingham Palace allowing two survey teams to experience both the ceremonial and the delays at first hand
H+R staff held a very successful Bake-Off for charity including a model of head office to set the scene.
The Hebridian Isles have generated enquires in September with specialist investigative work commissioned to the principal historic houses on Canna and Mull. The logistics of transporting surveyors, Rothounds and equipment to the outer reaches of the British Isles can be challenging and in past years extensive visits have been undertaken to Skye, Lewis and Raasay
H+R have undertaken a further appraisal for the new owners of Tottenham House in the Savernake Forest last visited in 2005 and 2013. A ‘sleeping giant’ in Wiltshire of which very few must now remain in the country that have not been refurbished. Following the theme, we have also undertaken specialist investigations of 18th century panelling to Percy House in the Tottenham Road belonging to Tottenham Hotspur FC!
H+R have been appointed to undertake specialist investigations on a series of railway station buildings spread throughout the country many in very obscure locations such as Mytholmroyd and Llanwrst. In addition, work for the National Trust continues with commissions at Nymans and Standen
David Watt continues to provide seminars on building pathology and timber decay for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) as part of their CPD programme at various locations around the country and delivered the Baker Memorial Lecture on behalf of the Building Limes Forum at Clare College, Cambridge
In London, two commissions stand out at the historic ‘Geffrye Museum of the Home’ and the Royal Academy both relating to the risk management of damp penetration and retained moisture in masonry masses. H+R have worked on many arts and cultural projects and the recent completion of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery extensively involved our specialist services. Finally it has been a pleasure to continue August’s nautical theme with timber condition investigations being undertaken at the Windermere Steamboat Museum
A nautical theme returned during the month with client discussions focussing on HMS Victory and the renovation of timbers to a 1789 sailing ship on the Isle of Man. This lay for a large part of its life undiscovered within a walled up boat cellar. Masonry naval fortifications such as Fort Bovisand in Plymouth have longstanding issues relating to damp penetration and moisture retention that have to be managed and resolved prior to refurbishment and conversion. With this in mind, we are currently informing the project team. Several H+R staff have a wide interest in sailing and naval history so this enthusiasm will help to inform our approach
Further project work in Scotland has been forthcoming with design team involvement at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow which has recently been successful with its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. H+R’s work at Glasgow School of Art continues
H+R’s developer clients remain highly active shrugging off doubts engendered by the crisis in the Chinese economy. Amongst other projects, investigative work has started on two very large late 19th plutocratic ‘palaces’; The Frythe in Hertfordshire and The Wildernesse in Kent
To cap the month, Wilson the Rothound has been the subject of a photo-shoot, for a couple of upcoming articles, and has a new bed to show for it. This will take his mind off his rival for affection; ‘Yan’ who is an apprentice Rothound based at H+R’s Northern office
Mid-summer has brought top-end temperatures to many of H+R’s south-east and London projects and tans have been nurtured on roofscapes and on cherrypickers on various projects ranging from a row of buildings in Great Portland Street to Bassetts House, a masterpiece of 1900s style by Sir Aston Webb
H+R’s programme has had a Scottish emphasis with work undertaken at Balnagown Castle and confirmation of appointment at Monzie Castle and the David Livingstone Museum. In addition, some of H+R’s building monitoring systems have had their annual service including York Crown Court and Buckingham Gate
H+R have started work on the very large re-development of Colchester Garrison where the standard mantra of ‘lowering external ground levels’ has had to be tempered by the fact that the garrison buildings just cover the original Roman Hippodrome! H+R have also started on one of the most dry rot infected structures we have ever encountered at Hanworth Park in Middlesex. This fine 1800s mansion has no known Architect and we will send a bottle of champagne to anyone who can provide a proven attribution
After 18 months investigative and monitoring works, H+R have now ‘signed-off’ the Steiner Academy development in Exeter. The fine 17th Century mansion originally known as Great Duryard has been given a new lease of life by this worthy organisation
H+R have attended initial briefings at Clandon Park. We gave provisional consultancy on managed drying down of the structures and environmental monitoring, utilising our experience gained at Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle and Glasgow School of Art.
We have achieved a prestigious commission at the Grade I listed Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing. Pitzhanger was the country residence designed by Sir John Soane for his own use. We will be undertaking a wide range of investigations, including flue mapping by Ground Penetrating Radar and specialist assessment of the cantilevered staircase and decorative plasterwork.
Our developer client at Royal Star and Garter in Richmond has appointed H+R for two other residential projects which are being started on immediately. There has been an increase in demand for independent advice for problem resolution concerning contemporary new build projects for customer service departments of developer clients. This includes render failures, forensic investigation of poor detailing, leak detection and timber decay. Surveys are challenging as most of the units are occupied by new purchasers.
From the present day back to the 15th century, one of our H+R surveyors has learnt a new skill and has been abseiling inside Winchester Cathedral to conclude the investigative work started in 2012 of the timber vaulted ceiling. One of our other church projects has had a long time lag. A second visit to All Saints Church on the Isle of Sheppey has been undertaken after our first visit which was in 2008!
One of our surveyors attended the IHBC Annual School in Norwich this month. The experience was found to be highly interesting and thought provoking with an excellent calibre of speakers.
Work has started again at Caistor St Edmund Roman Town in Norfolk, where H+R are providing contract administration services for the consolidation of parts of this ancient monument with funding from Natural England.
Finally, one of our timber scientists began investigations in one of the oldest buildings in Bracknell; The Bull Inn dating to the 15th Century. It was found to be an interesting investigation with excellent examples of original timber framing.
The month opened with the tragic events at Clandon Park. The smoke resulting from the almost total loss of the fabric was witnessed from H+R’s main office at Netley House. One member of H+R, who is a retained fireman, worked through the night controlling the blaze and still reported at 9:00am the next day as usual for his day job as an H+R surveyor! The loss at Clandon is felt very keenly in the local area.
H+R have regrettably been responsible for three days of busy road closures in the Mayfair area due to Cherrypicker deployment for a façade survey. Our surveyors put in extra time over the weekend to help limit disruption.
It was a privilege to visit a private house project in Richmond near our current activities at Royal Star and Garter. The 1800s mansion is to be comprehensively refurbished with H+R’s help. It is the biggest private home in Richmond and includes the longest private gallery space constructed in the 20th Century.
The clear result from the General Election immediately led to a surge of enquiries and project confirmation, especially in the premier residential districts of London. The increase in work experienced over the last year is set to continue.
H+R have been appointed to undertake a series of Stage 1 ‘risk management’ investigations by a new developer client. The project is a series of 1900s buildings in Hampstead once belonging to King’s College, London. The area is notable for the fine architectural detailing of the period and we look forward to liaising with the Conservation Officer.
One of the most sensitive and poignant commissions that H+R have undertaken was completed this month. The project involved specialist investigation and remedial consultancy on stone conservation to the principal memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Our previous work for armed forces charities, including Royal Star and Garter Homes, together with the Services background of some H+R staff helped provide valuable context to these investigations.
We continually develop our portfolio of services and this month, fire performance investigations at a large Covent Garden development were undertaken.
H+R staff continue to improve their skills with attendance at a range of training opportunities ranging from heritage disaster recovery and salvage to the use of Oak in buildings.
This month has seen another large scale barn redevelopment on behalf of a developer, this time in Hampshire hot on the heels of the work undertaken for another developer on a complex of eight listed timber framed barns in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire. Work has started in earnest on the King Street, Covent Garden redevelopment where we have expanded our portfolio of specialist services to include acoustic performance. We also had the pleasure of returning to Earlham Hall, the law faculty at UEA for detailed timber condition investigations after 4 years.
Our involvement in the Covent Garden area continues to grow with approval given to start a wide range of investigations on the buildings recently housing the Sanctuary, notorious for the old cinematic scene of a naked Joan Collins on a swing over the pool complex! We have also been appointed to undertake one of our biggest commissions to date covering the largescale redevelopment of the Grade I listed 20 Hanover Square and a swathe of New Bond Street and Brook Street.
British Land Have appointed us to undertake timber condition investigations of the largest remaining undeveloped area of Spitalfields, an area first assessed by H+R in 1978! In the past, H+R have undertaken timber condition investigations of the Spitalfields Market roof.
With the recent appointment of Page and Park as Architects for the restoration of Glasgow School of Art, we look forward to continuing to provide our expertise in assessing timber condition and the managed drying down of the historic structures subject to fire and flood.
We are very proud to have been a part of the St George’s Chapel project in Great Yarmouth which was recently included in the list of winners of the 2015 Civic Trust Awards. The awards are given to projects that make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the environment.
We enjoyed the opportunity to visit HMS Warrior in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to undertake timber condition and timber species investigations in the very few areas of the ship that were not of iron construction – such as the magazine! This survey was informed by our investigation in 2014 of the Napoleonic-era HMS Unicorn in Dundee. In London, we were pleased to undertake specialist damp investigations at the Royal Academy of Engineering in Carlton House Terrace for the same Architect who commissioned us to undertake specialised timber condition investigations at Magdalen College, Oxford.
The month was preoccupied with external investigations at Carriage Court in Covent Garden; the oldest pre-fabricated iron framed building in London and the first multi-storey ‘car park’ – but for horse drawn carriages! We investigated the iron framework as well as audited historic fixtures and fittings amongst other packages. Work has also continued on assessing building material performance at the contemporary Student Village buildings for Winchester University.
Confirmation has been given for H+R to start timber condition appraisals of the old Odeon Cinema in Bradford which on construction in 1930 had a seating capacity of nearly 4000. The roof area is the largest we have surveyed in 2014.
It was a pleasure to revisit the Grade 1 roof structures of the Brighton Dome as part of the forthcoming major refurbishment. Perhaps as a reflection of being so close to the sea, it is easy to imagine the whole structure resembling an inverted timber framed ship.
The old skittle alley at Chatham Historic dockyard provided interest in relation to timber condition investigations because this is only the second recreational sporting space constructed of timber that H+R have investigated. The first was the 1900s roller skating rink in Worthing. Consultancy has been provided in the past of the listed 1900s timber roller coaster in Margate. The on-going redevelopment of the Camden Town Lock area has seen us return to buildings ‘mothballed’ in previous years following H+R advice. This process has successfully prevented further deterioration prior to current full scale redevelopment. We were pleased to be appointed by the developer at Enderby Wharf in Greenwich to provide a full portfolio of investigations on the sole surviving listed building on this industrial site which once manufactured submarine cabling for worldwide use.
We have experienced an increase in enquires from the representatives of foreign high net worth individuals for buildings within the Belgravia, Chelsea and Eaton Square area. Including what is reported to be the most expensive house in London! On this latter project, H+R were also tasked to undertake measured drawings of the historic windows to research re-glazing in bullet proof glass! A hazardous materials investigation has begun at the King’s Cross Basin redevelopment which is the largest industrial renaissance site in London. This month, we have also completed our risk management investigations at the old Young’s Ram Brewery site in Wandsworth which was the UK’s oldest brewery in continuous operation until the 1980s complete with early Victorian beam engines still in-situ. We are now looking forward to undertaking more detailed investigations of the site on behalf of the Chinese developer client. The project will be H+R’s first for a property company headquartered in China and a foretaste of the future.