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Restoring the Crescent - a life time of challenges
The New Kings Cross Station, the Stade de France or building and running national motorways on the continent, is one thing, but the crescent restoration project provides a life time of engineering and building challenges for Cary Hadfield, Senior Project Manager and his team from Vinci Construction.
Vinci construction is well placed to carry out the complex and challenging work that the crescent poses. As well Motorways, Hotel complexes and other major civic engineering projects, they were the main contractors in the scheme to put a roof over the shell of the Chernobyl complex. This required positioning the cover remotely and working in difficult and dangerous conditions.
Speaking to a packed Poole’s Cavern visitors centre, Cary gave BCA members a fascinating and at times a humorous insight into the progress that has been made so far and his personal journey on the crescent project.
As Cary demonstrated working on the crescent is a bit of a leap into the unknown. The enabling works carried out in 2012 were a major civil engineering project, that required the building of a concrete basement complex, positioned over the springs that provide Nestle with Buxton Spring water. It was scheduled to take 26 weeks but in the end as problems were encountered and solved it was 52 weeks before the works were complete and the Main Contract works could be tendered.
The crescent was built over 200 years ago, at a cost of £38,601, taking eight years to complete, and it has seen numerous attempts to shore up the original work over the years. It is often these previous renovations that pose greater problems than the original building works. Rotten timber structures, incomplete fireplaces all add to the difficulties of working in a Grade 1 listed building and having to adhere to strict conservation guidelines. It all contributes to the project budget of £35 million.
Interestingly conservationists are generally more interested in ensuring that the building and decorating techniques of the past are preserved where ever possible to enable future generations to understand how the building was constructed, rather than individual items that are discovered.
The sensitive nature of the building and the complex of rooms and passages often mean that modern techniques and equipment cannot be used. It is back to the old ways, with no choice but for the team to physically dig out cellars and barrow the waste away. This is physically demanding work, often undertaken in difficult conditions, including the steamy heat when working close to the springs. If the original architect, John Carr was to wander in, he would recognise many of the techniques that were being used.
So far 500 tradesmen and construction workers have been involved in the works and Cary expects that it will be closer to 3,000 by the end of the contract. He paid tribute to the team, who as well as working in often difficult conditions, including many local tradesmen, have shown great resourcefulness and skill in overcoming the challenges thrown up so far.
There were many questions from the floor. Often demonstrating an intimate knowledge of the building, these were answered fully and with attention to detail, often with humour.
The nature of the building mean that there have been unforeseen problems that inevitably cause delays, but almost a year since the restoration work began, Cary and his team believe that they have uncovered the major unseen’s.
He has offered to comeback in the summer of 2018 to give a final report on Vinci’s part in this historic project.
Short Questionnaire on the Civic Movement
The Great Burbage Ocher Flood
Alan Roberts talks to Bill Norton about some of Bill's memories of Burbage in particular the flood in the early seventies when flood water backed up in one of the old mining levels and turned the river orange with Ocher.
One of the houses in Burbage mentioned by Bill. the house is no longer there.
Coal Mines of Buxton
On 8th September Buxton Civic Association helped celebrate the national Heritage Open Days by offering a guided walk around the coal mines of Buxton.
Despite a drizzly start the sun and a cooling breeze provided perfect conditions for our explorations on Burbage Moor. Fourteen visitors met at Poole’s Cavern, all booted and clad for the occasion. Before setting off, Alan Roberts and Lyn Noble set the scene by describing the historical and geological context of the coalfield. One group member had fond memories of BCA’s first coal mines walk which took place in “monsoon conditions”!
The walk started at Level Lane on Macclesfield Old Road, named after an 1803 mine “level” which was driven from this point. Then a fight with a few nettles and a steep climb to the moor to the location of an earlier level (1754), with remains of horse drawn tramways and coke ovens and rail sidings from a later period.
The top of Macclesfield Old Road provided an excellent view over the upper Goyt Valley and its extensive coal workings then back to the Axe Edge footpath where we examined air shafts to the levels beneath and speculated about the purpose of the “Buckett Engine Pits”.
Finally, down through an area of early shallow pits dating back to the 17th and early 18th Centuries and back to the cars. The sun continued to shine and the smiling faces (and aching legs) said it all.
Stop the Rot - How Liverpool City Council protects its historic Buildings
Keeping historic buildings in good repair is the key to their preservation. Local authorities can take action to secure repair when a building is allowed to deteriorate by its owners. Find out how Liverpool Council has been able to ‘stop the rot’ in the city.
Have a look at the video below to see how LCC go about the task of protecting their historic building stock.
The Goyt Valley Before Errwood Reservoir
Fernilee Reservoir Today.
The short film that you can view by clicking on the link below was made in 1932 during the building of the Fernilee Reservoir. The area of the Goyt valley that is now the Errwood Reservoir was not flooded until 1968.
The film can be seen on David Sterling's website - see link below. The website is packed full of information about the Goyt Valley and Errwood Hall.
The Big Conservation Conversation
Civic Voice are inviting Civic Associations and Societies across the country to use Civic Day 2017, 17th June, to focus attention on 50 years of conservation areas.
The Link below provides some more background and details.
If you are interested in doing something get in touch and come along to one of our Places and Spaces meetings.