Category Archives: News and Technical Information

News and Technical Information

April 2016

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!

March 2016

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

February 2016

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

January 2016

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

December 2015

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!

November 2015

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”

David Livingstone Centre

October 2015

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.

Percy House

September 2015

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

Yan the Rothound Apprentice

August 2015

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

July 2015

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