8th Update: 2nd October
Rapid progress has been made in the last two weeks. Thursday 1st October saw 10 men on site – a record.
The roof now has all its 8500 panes in place. The last three bays on the east side have had their filleting smoothed and are now drying out. Both elevations have been glazed in clear but slightly imperfect glass to give a more lively and less blank look than with standard plate glass. This glass shimmers like lightly rippled water. The east elevation which cannot be seen from a distance has been butt, i.e. square, jointed. The west elevation, which overlooks the garden, has the fish scale panes, as in the casement frames and indeed following the casement glazing lines. Glazing these long free-standing bars was again a challenge. The glass gives the structure its rigidity, which has the consequence that every new pane impacts the panes already in place until the task is complete – even to the point of dislodging neighbouring panes. This required considerable patience from the glaziers. All these glazing bars now have to have two coats of paint after the putty is dry. The bars are very narrow which means that the decorators work with thin brushes, often at difficult angles. There is a lot to do.
The casement frames were treated and re-glazed off site with again clear but imperfect glass. They are now back and being reinstalled. The plan is that they are to open smoothly and be held open by their stays. However, as has been mentioned before, the iron frame of the building has bent slightly over 180 years, meaning that the fitting of the frame to the casement is not perfect. This requires quite a lot of easing and adjusting.
The corner drainpipes are fitted with the adjustments needed to restore the vertical (again a consequence of the bending of the frame). The corner drain buttresses have been rebuilt and a lead shoe incorporated to minimise splashing. This has proved a neat solution to one of the more ugly features of the greenhouse as there had been poor quality repairs done to these drains over the years. Staying with drains, guttering and pipes have been fitted to the potting shed, which is now complete.
Finally two layers, skins, of lime render have been put on the back on the west side. This has to dry slowly, and with the greenhouse getting very warm in the recent sun, it has been essential to keep the plaster surface wet. (The heat has also disconcerted the putty filleters as the putty becomes too oozy to shape; not a problem they had anticipated in Northumberland.) A third skin will be added later.
3 weeks to completion.