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Some thoughts on historic buildings and their repairs by Alan Gardner

10 January 2014

Hebden Bridge based chartered building surveyor, Alan Gardner, who specialises in the repair of historic buildings, shared his thoughts on the principles and practicalities of conservation with members of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. This practical look at our historic environment provided a fresh and very different perspective for the enthusiastic audience, and it was clear that Alan approaches his work with real passion.

Historic buildings

Following the principles of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, founded by William Morris, Alan believes that using traditional materials not only preserves the fabric of a building more effectively than modern materials, but is an essential part of maintaining the beauty of the historic built environment.  Buildings have a story to tell that can be lost if repairs are carried out in an unthinking and insensitive way.  A key principle of conservation is minimal intervention.

Alan was especially scathing about building surveyors working for mortgage companies who arrived with their 'bleeping instruments' and declared that an old building needed drastic damp-proofing or rot treatment. Along with the purveyors of high tech solutions they scared homeowner into carrying out inappropriate treatments, ignoring the different construction techniques and materials used in old houses.

Alan showed photos of some of his recent projects such as repairs to listed churches, houses, mills and monuments from Dorset to Orkney. What came across strongly was respect for the people who maintained the crafts and skills of the past, enabling the beauty of stone, brick and wood to be saved to tell their stories for future generations.

The building theme continues with the next meeting of the society at the Methodist Hall in Hebden Bridge on Wednesday 22 January, when David Cant will talk about the craftsmen and patrons associated with Calder Valley Buildings of the Seventeenth Century.

Details from the Local History website

Many thanks to Sheila Graham for this report

Previously, on the HebWeb

Anne Kirker tells of Sam Hill of Making Place, Soyland Read more (22 Dec)

Local History Talk: A Postcard from Sunny Bunce's, a local destination that became known as the playground of the north. Read more

Withens Reservoir, the subject of the latest Local History Talk, was part of a fascinating story . . . not so much Cragg Vale's reservoir as the property of distant Morley. Read more (19 Nov)

Local History talk on Witchcraft in the Upper Calder Valley: As make-believe witches come knocking on our doors John Billingsley, folklorist and author of many books on the subject, told members of the Local History Society that to our ancestors witchcraft was very real indeed. More info (27 Oct)

Local History talk on Mytholmroyd's Moderna: Joan Laprell spoke to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society where she recalled the village within a village that was the Moderna Blanket Factory in Mytholmroyd, where she worked for ten years. More info (12 Oct)

Local History talk on maps: The first meeting of the new season of lectures for the Hebden Bridge Local History Society was launched by Tony Morris speaking about the history of maps and map-making as well as cartographic crime. More info (30 Sept)

Bridge Mill: History on our doorstep. Justine Wyatt, with the support of the mill's current owner David Fletcher, has uncovered more of the story of the building, and gave a fascinating talk to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. Read more (3 April)

Working from home in 1825; Working from home is not a new concept, Malcolm Heywood told members of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. William Greenwood's described his several different occupations. Read more (20 March)

The Grave of Robin Hood: mysterious goings-on in Calderdale. Kai Roberts told the local history society about Robin Hood in Calderdale and especially the monument known as Robin Hood’s Grave. Read more (11 March)

Todmorden Weavers and the Great War. Alan Fowler, former lecturer in Economic and Social History, told a meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society that the local Weavers’ Association had 4000 members at its peak. Read more (19 Feb)

Our Railway Station in the 19th century. David Taylor told a meeting of the Local History Society about how the early railway developed in Hebden Bridge. Read more (28 Jan)

Untold Stories: A glimpse into the lives of local people - Tony Wright has for the past ten years been collecting personal life stories on film and audio tape. Read more (18 Jan)

City in the Hills - Corinne McDonald and Ann Kilbey told a meeting of the Local History Society of Dawson City, the building of the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs and the publication of a new book. Read more (16 Dec)

Lament for the Mills - Robert Cockcroft, poet and academic told of his childhood spent close to mills owned and operated by his grandfather, John Cockcroft and his father, Keith. Read more (2 Dec)

How much thought do you give to a war memorial? - Mike Edwards told a meeting of the Local History Society, war memorials can be found in many forms and in unusual places. Read more (17 Nov)

Clubhouses: self help and co-operation - A small row of houses in Old Town, called Clubhouses, encapsulates some of the history and spirit of the Calder Valley explains Julie Cockburn. (30 October 2012)

Small Town Saturday Night - The story of a love affair with rock 'n roll at its peak in the 1950s and 60s from speaker Trevor Simpson.

The world of Cornelius Ashworth, speaker Alan Petford, Local History talk of 10 October 2012

Hebden Bridge Local History Society

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