Longford Academy (LA3) report

Your webmaster has finally found the time to post this long-awaited report by Donald Ellsmore from the Longford Academy (LA3) held in Tasmania in May 2012.

The third Longford Academy was held at Woolmers and Brickendon Estates in Tasmania during the week of 16 – 20 May 2012. Participants from Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales included site managers, heritage consultants and tradesmen.

The format for the Academy is a self-funded hands-on learning activity over five days, focusing on the conservation issues at Woolmers and Brickendon Estates. This year the learning activities included:

  • Structural stabilization
  • o   Brickendon house stables
  • o   Brickendon bull shed
  • Re-pointing
  • o   Woolmers coachman’s cottage
  • Surface treatments
  • o   Woolmers working horse stables and blacksmiths
  • o   Woolmers homestead harling finish
  • Damp and ground water ingress
  • o   Woolmers homested

Structural analysis of the Brickendon house stables commenced with a preliminary investigation in 2011 during the second Longford Academy. As a result of that investigation, and work undertaken by the owner to relieve the ground water, further archaeological investigations were undertaken in 2012 and specific proposals were drawn up.  Refer to the report on the structural stabilisation of the Brickendon House Stables.

Chris How, engineer, discusses the problems with participants.    

Investigation of the bull shed at Brickendon was limited to a site recording of the structure and a structural analysis. On the basis of this investigation it is concluded that the structure could not be safely repaired without the introduction of supplementary support and strengthening to avoid catastrophic failure and collapse.

Participants examining the bull shed at Brickendon on 17 May 2012.

The re-pointing activity ran over the five days of the Academy. Preparation of the repair area of repair was made at the beginning when the materials and methodology were tested. Sands were washed and graded, while the lime was slaked and matured (briefly). The lime mortar repairs were then undertaken and the site was tended to assist the carbonation and curing.

Testing of the sands prior to preparation of mortars for the repointing activity. Participants getting familiar with the churn brush and its role in tending repair mortars.

The examination of surface treatments at Woolmers focused on the protection of the exposed woodwork and some repairs to the harling finishes. Pigmented and unpigmented oils were prepared and applied to bare wood in several locations. The unpigmented oils were mixed with pine tar according to a standard recipe. The pigmented oils were coloured to blend with the aged appearance of adjoining surfaces. The harling repair trials included an application of ferrous sulphate tinted limewash to the south wall of the blacksmiths shop and the removal and repair of a salt affected area of plaster at the east front of Woolmers homestead. No fresh harling was applied but substantial progress with methodology for future repairs was made with the input of plasterers who attended the academy.  Their considerable knowledge of traditional lime plastering and application techniques informed planning for future works.

Conservation painting exercise at the working horse stables at Woolmers. The aim of the painting was to provide protection to the wood without materially altering the appearance.

The issue of salt damp in the north-east front of Woolmers homestead was first examined at the second Longford Academy in 2011, when the structure was examined in detail and moisture readings were taken in the most affected areas. Following that analysis core holes were made across the north eastern garden area in 2011 to determine the sub-ground conditions.

The area of ground on the north side of Woolmers homestead (left) discharging water into the rooms and cellars (right). Sub-surface water table established by augur boring across the ground on the north side of the homestead.

The fourth Longford Academy will be held at Woolmers and Brickendon in 2013. Participants will have the opportunity to progress the former works and to investigate other issues within the broad aims of assisting with the conservation of the places and sharing knowledge about traditional and new conservation technologies and practices.

Donald Ellsmore
APT Australasia Chapter

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2 Responses to Longford Academy (LA3) report

  1. Pingback: Longford Academy 4: 6-10 May 2013 | APT Australasia Chapter

  2. Pingback: Longford Academy LA7: 9-13 May 2016 | APT Australasia Chapter

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