Report from LA7 – May 2016

Forty-three local and international participants, and nine presenters and coordinators, attended the seventh annual  ‘Longford Academy’ (LA7) at the World Heritage Inscribed sites Woolmers Estate and Brickendon Estate in Northern Tasmania.

LA7 concluded successfully on Friday 13 May 2016 — a five-day program in the conservation of traditional structures and fabric at Woolmers, with two one-day intensive workshops at Brickendon. Participants came from Tasmania and mainland Australia, and from Kuala Lumpur, Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington.

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The event was generously supported by:

  • Woolmers and Brickendon Estates
  • Tasmanian Construction Industry Training Board
  • Northern Midlands Council
  • Tasmanian Independent Builders’ Association
  • Sibelco (suppliers of Mole Creek lime)
  • Let’s Clean (cleaning, paint removal and desalination technologies)
  • Period Building Conservation (Victoria)
  • G & C Waller Builders (Sydney)
  • Mitre 10 Longford

The Longford Academy could not succeed without the generous support it receives from both sponsors and participants.

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The weather this year was at times challenging, with rain, strong winds and snow on the mountains. However, spirits remained high throughout and the collaborative learning and practical demonstrations and activities continued successfully during the week without too much interruption.

Progress was made this year with some long-running research and practical activities at Woolmers, including the application of harling (roughcast plaster); one of the distinctive traditional finishes. The four plasterers who attended this year achieved pleasing results with enthusiastic contributions.

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As a result of their collaboration, and by drawing on their combined knowledge of practices in Britain and Australia, it will now be possible to move forward with confidence to repair damaged areas of the distinctive roughcast plastered brick structures at both sites.

The two one-day intensive workshops were very well attended and appreciated by all attendees, not only for the famous Woolmers scones or the export quality beef at the traditional Brickendon barbeque, but also for the quality of the presentations and practical learning opportunities.

Participants at the lime mortars workshop — who included stone masons, plasterers, specifiers and other conservation practitioners – obtained a very good understanding of the correct and traditional uses of lime in mortars and plasters through presentations by David Young and practical demonstrations by the participants.

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The traditional roofing repair workshop was a highlight of the week. Greg Owen — an experienced builder and licensed roof plumber from Stanley in Victoria, and a keen observer and follower of correct traditional roofing and roof plumbing practices — presented the theory and demonstrated the techniques.

The wood workers in the group used traditional tools, methods and techniques to split timber shingles and lay them under the direction of Allan Coates from Tasmania and Gary Waller from Sydney.

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We thank all participants for generously sharing their knowledge, experience and practical skills, including assistance from the carpenters in developing our ‘props’ for the demonstrations — that spirit of collaboration underpins the special learning environment at the Longford Academy. Thanks also to Cheryl Padgett and Anthony Mitchell who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the catering, material support and transport assistance was up the usual high standard, despite the larger number of participants and increased site activities.

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A second Longford Academy event for this year will be held in late August. It will feature a Master Class in Wooden joinery repair methods led by Gary Waller, Sydney’s leading wood conservation practitioner. Given the anticipated response to this specialised workshop for wood practitioners, it will be an event by application, with details of the selection criteria to be announced in late May.

For those more interested in the wet trades and practices, this second Longford event for 2016 will also provide an opportunity for others to work with David Young on lime mortar making, re-pointing brickwork and roughcast plaster repairs.

We will look forward to meeting past and new colleagues in Longford in August.

Donald Ellsmore
Convenor, APT Australasia Chapter
May 2016

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