Journal of Architectural Conservation

Volume 1 Number 2 July 1995

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A cylindrical stone dovecote near Culross, Fife.  Photograph by Tim Buxbaum.

See: 'The Conservation of Historic Dovecotes' by John McCann

Contents:

Conservation and the Stonemason Peter Hill

The Treatment of Historic Parks and Gardens David Jacques

Biocide Residues as a Hazard in a Building under Conservation: Pentachlorophenol at Melton Constable Hall B. Cope, N. Garrington, A. Matthews and D. Watt

Monuments Conservation Practice in Ghana: Issues of Policy and Management Anthony Hyland

Perception, Disability and the Conservation Environment Peter Howell

The Conservation of Historic Dovecotes John McCann

 

Editorial
Interdisciplinary Collaboration
D
avid Watt

 

The Journal of Architectural Conservation has come into being at a time when there is much change taking place within the primary disciplines involved in the conservation of buildings, monuments, places and landscapes. Architects and surveyors, planners and engineers, are now becoming increasingly aware of the need for greater knowledge and awareness when dealing with the physical remains of past ages. Acknowledgement of this developing concern may be seen in the growing number of academic institutions offering under- and post-graduate courses, and in the responses of the professional bodies, including the establishment of lists of their members who profess a level of competence in such work. Within the public sector there is also a call for the establishment of an institute that will reflect the diverse skills and tasks of the thousand or so conservation officers working within local authorities.

Changes are also taking place in the manner in which the business of conservation is being planned and practised. The roles and responsibilities of material and environmental scientists, fine art and material conservators, archaeologists, historians, administrators and craftspersons are increasing, and all parties to a project have to adapt to new ways of working. Such an interdisciplinary approach has been fostered in the ICOMOS Guidelines for Education and Training for Conservation of Monuments, Ensembles and Sites, approved by the Colombo General Assembly in 1993.

Interdisciplinary collaboration for conservation projects within the United Kingdom has been promoted by the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC), and a greater understanding of the roles and duties of the professions involved in conservation fostered in 'profiles' prepared by Sir Bernard Feilden and COTAC. The ICOMOS guidelines, together with the 'profiles', will form the basis of a paper in a forthcoming issue of this Journal.

This theme of interdisciplinary collaboration is at the very heart of the Journal of Architectural Conservation, and will be reflected in the balance of papers that will appear in forthcoming issues. In this current issue there are papers that draw on the knowledge and experience of architects and architectural historians, material scientists and analytical chemists, stonemasons and those involved in the conservation of historic gardens.

 

Conservation and the Stonemason
Peter Hill

 

There have been great changes in the masonry trade in recent years. With the growth in stone conservation, together with radical changes in training and the increase in numerically-controlled machinery, there has been some loss of tradition and standards. Very few non-masons have any real insight into the skills of the trade, with repairs in solid stone capable of a far higher degree of accuracy than is often realized.

There must be an informed understanding and explanation of the philosophy behind any repair programme. The difference between conservation and preservation must be identified, and there must be a distinction made between living buildings, with a roof and a potential function, and archaeological monuments. The use of foreign materials does not preserve the integrity of the design, and while the rampant stonemason must not be given free licence on historic buildings, conservation by replacement maintains the continuity of purpose and enhances the visual enjoyment, which the general public has some right to expect.

 

Peter Hill was in turn stonemason and setter-out at York Minster, and Clerk of the Works at Lincoln cathedral. He is now a stone consultant, and lectures on archaeological and modern masonry techniques. 

 

The Treatment of Historic Parks and Gardens
David Jacques

 

Restoration philosophy for historic parks and gardens has traditionally been weak. With the recognition of landscapes as an important, if problematic, aspect of the physical heritage, and with the advent of grant schemes, there is, however, a requirement for a rationale that reconciles general conservation aims with the particular problems of a live material and ephemerality in gardens.

The various forms of treatment (preservation, maintenance, repair, conjectural detailing, reconstruction, restoration-in-spirit and period gardens) are assessed in conservation terms. This is done, first, by clarifying the nature of the historical value in parks and gardens; secondly, by considering the various forms of treatment; and thirdly, by discussing more fully the conservation-based treatments available.


David Jacques MSc, DipTP, MRTPI, MIHT
David Jacques was Head of Historic Parks and Gardens at English Heritage between 1987 and 1993. He now teaches at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies at York, and is a consultant, having just completed work on the restoration of the Privy Garden at Hampton Court. He is the Chairman of the ICOMOS UK Historic Gardens and Landscapes Committee.

 

Biocide Residues as a Hazard in Historic Buildings
Pentachlorophenol at Melton Constable Hall
B. Cope, N. Garrington, A. Smith and D. Watt

 

Recent survey work at Melton Constable Hall in Norfolk has revealed the presence of fibrous crystals on the walls of some rooms. Scrapings of loose material taken from these walls have been subjected to chemical analysis and found to consist of the expected gypsum, together with needle-like crystals of the biocide pentachlorophenol. The presence of the latter was established by two independent instrumental techniques.

Pentachlorophenol and its derivative sodium pentachlorophenate are compounds that were formerly very widely used as preservatives for timber, masonry, plaster and brickwork. They are extremely toxic in their own respect and may contain traces of the very much more dangerous dioxins.

It is considered that pentachlorophenol and related materials represent a serious health hazard to conservators and others who might come into contact with the residues from past biocidal treatments of structures, and that this hazard should be drawn to the attention of workers in the field as a matter of considerable urgency.

Personnel working in areas where these materials might have been used are urged to wear eye protection, gloves and face masks. In cases where irritation of the skin or eyes is observed, workers are encouraged to send samples for laboratory analysis and to suspend operations until a report on the findings is issued.

 

Barry Cope PhD, FIM

Barry Cope qualified in polymer science at South Bank Polytechnic, later completing a PhD in the same discipline. He worked in industry as a polymer chemist in such fields as thermoset resin development, adhesive formulation and thermoplastic processing, before joining Leicester Polytechnic, now De Montfort University.

Noma Garrngton CChem, MRSC
Norma Garrington is the Senior Departmental Officer for the Chemistry Department at De Montfort University. She gained the qualification Graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry (GRSC) whilst based in industry as an analytical chemist.
Audrey Matthews PhD, CChem, MRSC
Audrey Matthews gained the GRSC qualification at Huddersfield Polytechnic, followed by a PhD in chemistry from Reading University. She is the Course Leader of the newly-validated MSc degree course in Conservation Science.

David Watt BSc(Hons), Dip Arch Cons (Leic), PhD, ASVA, ARICS
David Watt is a Chartered Building Surveyor, currently working as Conservation Officer within the Department of Planning and Transportation of Norfolk County Council.  

 

Monuments Conservation Practice in Ghana 
Issues of Policy and Management
Anthony Hyland

 

The conservation of historic monuments is a responsibility of governments, and this is increasingly recognized, Ghana was one of the first African countries to do so, and this paper acknowledges the government's commitment to that responsibility. In this paper, the author – monuments conservation consultant to the government of Ghana for the Central Region Integrated Development Programme and technical consultant to the Historic Preservation (Forts and Castles) project component funded by USAID – reviews current conservation practice in Ghana, as applied to a major group of World Heritage monuments – St George's Castle and Fort St Jago at Elmina, and Cape Coast Castle.

Good conservation practice requires that the historical integrity and authenticity of any monument is protected, demonstrated and maintained. This can only be assured if the monument is properly used and managed. With reference to specific aspects of the conservation of the three monuments that are the subject of the Historic Preservation Project, the author demonstrates the complexity of the conservation task and the need for a comprehensive Heritage Management Plan.

The substance of this paper was originally presented at a working conference convened by the government minister responsible for the National Commission on Culture (the counterpart in Ghana of the Secretary of State for the National Heritage in the United Kingdom) in Cape Coast Castle in May 1994.

 

Anthony D.C. Hyland BA(Arch.), ARIBA, FGIA, Dip. Conservation Studies

A graduate of the Bartlett School, Anthony Hyland he has his own practice as a consultant in, and teacher of, architectural conservation and housing rehabilitation.

 

Perception, Disability and the Conservation Environment
Peter Howell

 

This paper sets out to examine the means of communication on conservation sites and suggests possible concepts that might be applied to the design of systems to provide communication for all visitors, including those generally considered as having perceptual disabilities. It examines what needs to be communicated in a conservation environment and to whom. The perceptual characteristics of visitors and resulting methods of communication are discussed in relation to the simulation of environments in analogous and interactive forms. The Dorcas Project, designed by Dog Rose, is described and the tactile to sound module discussed.

 

Peter Howell Dip Arch, RIBA
Peter Howell was a Research Fellow at the Building Research Station, ran a research and development group for the GLC, and then worked for the Department of the Environment before taking very early retirement in the 1980s.

 

The Conservation of Historic Dovecotes
John McCann

 

This paper deals with the problems of conserving historic dovecotes, and is particularly concerned with their functional features. Most dovecotes in Britain are listed, so it is assumed that their value as works of historic architecture is already sufficiently appreciated. Their functional features are less widely understood, and where they survive only in fragmentary condition there is a danger that they may not be recognized, or that they may be inappropriately repaired. The text draws on contemporary sources to show how dovecotes were used, and covers perching spaces, pigeon entrances, windows, doors, floors, revolving ladders, feeding platforms, nesting places, the use of limewash, protection against predators, and common building defects. The author hopes to enable conservers to take informed decisions about the retention and repair of functional features. Nomenclature is discussed briefly, and the favoured terms are given in italics at their first appearance in the text.

 

John McCann, BA
John McCann is an architectural historian who studies vernacular buildings and their materials. As an Inspector of Historic Buildings with Essex County Council he listed or re-listed over two thousand buildings in the period 198187.

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