Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 13 Number 3 November 2007


Editorial Vincent Shacklock

Appropriate Technologies for Conservation  David Yeomans

The Apollo Victoria Theatre Conservation Against the Clock  John Earl and John Muir

Roman Cement Part Two: Stucco and Decorative Elements, a Conservation Strategy  David Hughes, Simon Swann and Alan Gardner

Managing Fire Risk in Historic Thatched Buildings  Roger Angold and Marjorie Sanders

Preserving Historic Churches and Monasteries in the Republic of Macedonia  Pance Velkov

Read the Editorial by Vincent Shacklock


Abstracts and Author Information


Appropriate Technologies for Conservation
David Yeomans


Conservation principles rarely consider the technology of either the historic artefact itself or of the technologies to be used in conservation. This paper argues that the principles adopted should be appropriate to the technology of the construction, partly to preserve the integrity of the original design, but also partly for sound practical reasons. This is particularly true of more recent and somewhat transient technologies. It also considers the advisability of using some sophisticated techniques to stabilize existing structures when more traditional repair methods, even perhaps including rebuilding, might be more appropriate. This requires a more flexible approach and a clearer evaluation of the historical significance of the existing fabric. Moreover, for sensible judgements to be made and appropriate methods of repair to be selected, it is necessary that the technologies of construction be understood.


David Yeomans BSc(Eng), PhD, AIWSc

David Yeomans practices as an engineer specializing in the repair of historic timber structures, teaches regularly on the MSc in Timber Building Conservation at the Weald and Downland Museum and is secretary of the International Committee for the Analysis and Restoration of Structures of Architectural Heritage (ISCARSAH).


The Apollo Victoria Theatre
Conservation Against the Clock
John Earl and John Muir 

The Apollo Victoria Theatre is an architecturally outstanding work of its time. With a seating capacity of 2572, it has been in recent years one of the most successful musical houses in the West End of London, but its original architectural and decorative character had become severely eroded over the years. This paper describes how conditions peculiar to theatre work dictated that major restoration works, from confirmation of instructions, through detailed planning to execution, had to be completed within a rigidly defined period of 16 weeks, allowing no scope for overruns or failure to deliver.



John Earl, author of Building Conservation Philosophy (Donhead, 2003), worked from 1956 to 1986 with the LCC’s, later Greater London Council’s, historic buildings division and later became director of a statutory body, the Theatres Trust, retiring in 1995. He is now a conservation consultant working exclusively on historic theatres.


John Muir has worked as an architect in private practice since 1964 and for the last 25 years has specialized in theatre work, primarily in the commercial sector. He served as a trustee of the Theatres Trust from 1995 to 2004.


Roman Cement

Part Two: Stucco and Decorative Elements, a Conservation Strategy

David Hughes, Simon Swann and Alan Gardner


Roman cement had a short period of significant use in comparison to lime and Portland cement. Despite this, there is a legacy of fine buildings about which conservators need to be informed. Part One of this paper (published March 2007) provided a brief history of the material, its characteristics and the mortars used for stucco and cast decorative elements, with due recognition given to the surface finishes which were required. In this paper, a conservation strategy is proposed which includes reference to the EU funded ROCEM project through which small-scale production of Roman cement has been recommenced. It is determined that further research is required before the impact on the consolidation of the historic fabric from the use of silicate paints can be fully understood.


David C. Hughes BSc (Hons), PhD

David is a senior lecturer in construction materials with particular interests in mortars using cements, limes, hydraulic limes and pozzolanas. He is currently investigating the use of rapid prototyping technology for the production of moulds to yield cast elements from existing decorations and historical drawings.

Simon Swann BA (Hons), ACR

Simon is an architectural conservator specializing in mortars, plasters, stucco, stone and related materials. He has been involved in several major conservation projects involving the conservation of Parker’s Roman cement and was a member of the ROCEM project. 

Alan Gardner BSc (Hons), MRICS, SPAB Lethaby Scholar

Alan is a chartered building surveyor in private practice, accredited in conservation, who has been involved in providing consultancy advice, specification writing and contract administration on a number of Roman cement repair and redecoration projects.


Managing Fire Risk in Historic Thatched Buildings

Roger Angold and Marjorie Sanders


Every year, between 70 and 100 thatched properties will experience a serious fire. In addition to the irreplaceable loss to the built heritage, the financial cost of reinstatement is now in excess of £200,000 per building on average. The majority of thatch fires are chimney related, and are most often associated with the installation and use of modern multi-fuel appliances. The potential for a fire is entirely dependent on understanding and managing the risks during the design and installation process, and on the subsequent usage patterns of appliances. There are a number of risk minimization construction strategies that can be used in old properties that will not compromise conservation principles. However, when a fire does occur, it is important that firefighters are familiar with the pattern of fire spread in a thatched roof, and know how to recognize the roof construction details designed to protect the rest of the property. Unfortunately, once started, thatch fires are almost impossible to control; therefore, prevention is essential, as if one relies on detection, it is almost always too late to save the property.


Roger Angold PhD, MA, BSc, CBiol, MIBiol

Marjorie Sanders MPhil, CBiol, MIBiol, Churchill Fellow

Between them, the authors have experience in botany and cereal science, agriculture and food research. For the past 15 years, they have been active leaders in both academic and practical research into the major causes, management and control of fires in thatch.


Preserving Historic Churches and Monasteries in the Republic of Macedonia

Pance Velkov


Some of the most valuable frescoes in the world can be found in the churches and monasteries in the Republic of Macedonia. Painted mostly in the Byzantine (eleventh to fifteenth centuries) and post-Byzantine periods (fifteenth to eighteenth centuries), these frescoes are now under threat, presumably due to the fact that the original roofs covering the churches were replaced by modern ones. The new roofs, made of aggressive materials such as cement mortar and reinforced concrete, have very low air permeability and do not allow sufficient drying of the fresco layers during the humid periods in Summer and cause over-drying of the fresco layers during the hot and dry summer periods. This phenomenon is believed to be the main cause for the frescoes’ degradation. This study examines some recent interventions to Macedonian church buildings and what appears to be consequential damage to the fresco paintings, which in some cases is already irreversible. It also proposes possible approaches which could help to save this important element of world heritage and preserve it for posterity.


Pance Velkov PhD

Pance Velkov  is a permanent member of the committee of experts on heritage education of the Council of Europe, and president of the Macedonida Foundation for Heritage Education, Promotion and Valorization.

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