The structural repair of historic buildings can be much more demanding than the design of new structures. It changes the base of the engineer's art of design which may be of great value when evolving new designs for new structures. The repair of historic buildings demands a full and sensitive understanding of all that may be physically examined and researched in historic documentation. Close co-operation between the architect and engineer at an early stage of the project is vital.
The lime plaster of the ceiling was found to have disengaged from the supporting timber laths underneath. To repair the ceiling without renewing it, stainless steel wire was coursed into the plaster from below, running against the line of the laths. Ties in light tension were taken up and attached with screws to the joists at regular intervals. Rotten structural members in the roof were cut out and replaced. Some new plasterwork on laths was needed. Repairs are evident by the use of machine-cut laths instead of the hand-split originals. The overall quality of the church ceiling remains unchanged. Photo depicts ceiling repairs looking towards the west gable. (Photographer: Tony O'Connell).
Dry and wet rot were found in the timber on which the cornice was originally run. Some sections could not be saved and small areas were cut back. New pieces were cast and each of the dentals was attached individually to ensure a square edge. A stainless steel wire was run into a coursed-out channel of cornice to retain original sections. The wire was attached to stainless steel bolts that were secured to the fabric of the building. Plaster repairs to join the old and new elements and to cover wire supports were minimal. Deliberately, close examination can reveal new fabric from the older layers without diminishing the impact of the whole setting. Photo depicts existing cornice restrained with stainless steel wire and fixings. (Photographer: Tony O'Connell).
Areas of the walls had separated due to subsidence and were stitched together by inserting a simple stainless steel tie into the wall. The tie was up-turned at one end and down-turned at the other and was not actually fixed to the fabric. All cracks were repacked to their full depth with mortar to ensure the continuing structural efficiency of the building.