3rd Update: 11th July 2015

The most visible progress over the past 3 weeks has been on the potting shed.

Many years ago the attractive slates had been covered by bitumen roofing felt. It had been hoped that this could be removed and the underlying slates cleaned. It was soon clear, however, that this was wholly unfeasible, even allowing for the fact that the experiment took place on the hottest day of the year. Accordingly, the original slates have been stripped off and scrapped and replaced by old slates sourced from County Durham. The sky lights which had been covered over by the bitumen are also being reinstated.

With the slates removed, the true condition off the beams was revealed. There was more insect and damp damage than initially thought. Some timbers have been replaced, others kept in place but braced.

The pointing is complete.

Slating is slow work. Nevertheless the final appearance of the potting shed is now emerging. For a building with such a humble function, it is going to look rather magnificent.

Back in the greenhouse, David, the stonemason, has been repairing the many broken cills on the plinth. It turned out that the snapped off stone could be fitted back snuggly into place and then pinned firm by rods and mastic. Not only has this avoided the need for new stone, but we have maintained the weathered colour and texture of the original stone.

David, who has many functions, also had to take up his spade and dig two pits for drainage tanks. We’ll return to the drains in a later update. Suffice it to say that a huge quantity of rainwater comes off the roof and has to be disposed of – somehow.

As for the main task, Clive and Chris continue the painstaking business of removing loose putty, removing, without breaking, loose glass, cleaning the exposed metal and then applying rust inhibitor. There are no shortcuts; it goes on inch by inch, with Chris in particular lying on a ladder suspended over the curved roof. Neither easy, nor comfortable.