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Volunteers have been busy on two working party days. The first day the platforms were lifted, finally revealing the state of the under structure. Thank you to Alistair at Ransfords for providing the lifting equipment free of charge. The second day a team worked with spades and wheelbarrows to clear silt build up from the pit floor. The walls and base of the pit appear to be well constructed and sound. Unfortunately nothing of any archaeological interest was found.
PROJECT APPEAL IS LAUNCHED TO RAISE £10,000 TOWARDS SAVING THIS HERITAGE BUILDING. PLEASE SHARE THIS FUNDING APPEAL LEAFLET WITH OTHERS TO HELP US ACHIEVE OUR GOAL. ALL DONATIONS, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, WILL HELP.
FRIDAY 13th JULY (neither of them are superstitious!)
Peter Broxholme and Roger Dalton worked to free the two deck plates of the weighbridge platform. With the aid of angle grinders and a portable 240v generator, the bolt heads securing the deck plates to the steel under structure were ground away. As the remains of the last bolt were cleared, the associated deck plate tipped, bringing it`s one edge above ground level, allowing the use of a crowbar to lift the plate a little further and then lower onto supporting timbers.
The next task is the lifting and transferring of the 2 plates away from the pit and to expose the pit contents. This has been arranged for Tuesday 24th July. Originally it was thought a crane would need to be hired and at around a £1,000 it would have been an expensive operation. So we are very grateful to Ransfords, who have offered the services of a forklift and driver free of charge.
We know already that there is severe corrosion of steel components, some of which have collapsed. Once the pit contents are revealed there will be much discussion and head scratching to decide the best way forward. The over riding factor is to ensure the platform will withstand the weight of builders lorries etc. once work begins on the building.
A WORKING PARTY HAVE BEEN BUSY FIXING TARPAULINS OVER THE ROOF TO PROTECT IT FROM THE WORST OF THE WEATHER. IRONICALLY THEY CHOSE ONE OF THE WARMEST DAYS OF THE YEAR SO FAR TO DO IT! ALSO IT WAS VERY WINDY AS CAN BE SEEN ON THE PHOTOS.
There has been a lot of beavering away gathering information ready for making an application to The Heritage Lottery Fund. It had been hoped to complete this during May but there is still a lot planning to do and the determination of costs as well, so our aim now is to have this completed by the end of June ready for the next HLF application period.
There has been a lot of discussion about the internal layout of the weighbridge when it is restored. The aim, of course, is to preserve as much as possible of the original building. But we have to make provision for its use once restored. The sustainability of the building is an important part of the process of applying for grants; we want this building to be used by the Society and by the community of Bishop’s Castle.
Peter Broxholme is working on developing a Health and Safety policy – essential as we carry out work on the building and accommodate visitors.
We now have our own site entrance…… The Hard Work Begins!
A milestone reached today…. the tree growing very close to the building and leaning on the roof has finally been felled. As soon as the area was clear Peter Broxholme and Roger Dalton set to with long handled pruners, ropes etc. and managed to clear a lot of the ivy from the east end of the roof.
Ransfords have cleared the area surrounding the building and erected a dividing barrier between the wood yard and the land of the weighbridge site. The large tree growing at the back and over the roof is due to be felled very soon.
Access is now directly into the site from Station Street. It is a controlled access with a member of the project team in attendance at all times. The intention is to have several open days throughout the next few months, when the public will be able to view the building and see the plans for renovation. If any member of the society would like to have a look other than on an open day, it can be arranged by contacting John Rimmer : firstname.lastname@example.org or 01588 638998. PLEASE NOTE THERE IS NO ACCESS VIA RANSFORDS YARD.
We have now signed the lease for the weighbridge which takes effect on April 1st. We have negotiated sensible access to the site and have a usable area surrounding the building. Our conservation specialist architect, Geraint Roberts of Tim Ratcliffe Associates, Historic Building and Traditional Materials Consultants, has made another site visit and, having discussed with us some of the ideas for the building, is putting together a range of options that will enable us to move forward and apply for funding. In the meantime, investigation in to the condition of the weighbridge mechanism will be undertaken.
February 12th 2018
There has been a bit of a frustrating delay because we wanted to be absolutely sure that the conditions of the lease were suitable for our plans for the building. It is expected that the lease will be signed within the next week, then we can start to work with the architects Tim Ratcliffe Associates, Historic Building and Traditional Materials Consultants, to draw up plans for applying for a Heritage Lottery Grant towards restoring the building.
December 5th 2017
Interesting day at the weighbridge today, looking for proof that the existing refrigeration room was originally two smaller rooms as indicated by the second chimney visible on early photographs but no longer there.
Peter and Roger removed a layer of slabs and thick polystyrene from the floor in the centre of the room and revealed the footprint of two stone hearths and a chimney breast. Also revealing continuous tiles through a former doorway to the left and the footprint of a four and a half inch thick wall to the right. It now seems certain that the right hand end wall originally had a window not a door as previously thought and entry to that end room was by an interior door from the adjacent room.
Member John Taylor has recently sent us two photographs he took of the weighbridge building one in 1955 and the other in1961. His accompanying letter gives an insight into the state of the building and weighbridge platform.
20th October 2017 An Update on the Weighbridge
The Weighbridge Project is moving forward steadily. We have agreed the terms for a lease on the building (essential if we are to apply for Heritage Lottery Funding) and, following a Committee meeting, have been given the go-ahead to engage a specialist architectural practice to prepare plans, an outline schedule of work required, preparation of costings and a statement of historical significance (needed to set the building’s heritage in context).
Looking at the scope of the project, it is clear, from discussions with other successful bidders, that a successful project is also sufficiently ambitious, is clear in its scope and doesn’t try to “do it on the cheap”. The project would encompass the building itself, landscaping the enclosed area, fencing that area, making safe the weighbridge platform, providing facilities in and to the building having regard to its post-restoration uses and generating digital and printed materials about the project, which would also include publicity. A business plan to manage the building after restoration will be essential.
You can see that much work is required to even get to the point of making an application for funding. I don’t think any of us have any illusions about the process ahead; but I can say we are committed to carrying it through. We’ll update you on progress though I do not think there will be much to report over the next month or so (though we won’t be idle!).
The Project is progressing slowly but steadily. An exciting announcement is expected by the end of this month.
Saturday 9th September 2017
Despite the wet morning a good crowd turned up to see the weighbridge in it`s present condition. Comments were very encouraging.
Tuesday 5th September 2017
The working party continued to remove the polystyrene blocks and galvanised sheet cladding in the larger end room which was a cold store. This work revealed severed brick work in the side walls indicating the presence in early years of a dividing wall. This discovery indicates the original building consisted of four small rooms as suspected from two chimneys evident in old photographs. It is now strongly suspected that each room originally had a fireplace.
25th August 2017 Heritage Lottery Fund
We have submitted an online pre application enquiry form and expect to receive a reply within 10 working days. Dependant on the reply we will then know if, how and when to proceed with a full application.
We have had a meeting with Colin Richards, a conservation specialist, about the feasibility of restoring the Bishop’s Castle Railway weighbridge office. Ransfords, the owners of the timber yard on which the building stands, have cleared some of the material which rather surrounded the building and it was possible to get to the back side of the building where there is a tree extremely adjacent to the building (see photos below).
To summarise the advice we’ve had: the building, although in a poor condition, is suitable for preservation. The cost, in broad terms, would be in the region of £50,000. We would need to seek funding for this though the Society might put some money into the project. For an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to be successful, the project must show a benefit to the community, it should feature volunteers to a significant degree, it should involve the acquisition of skills and have a long term future. If this sounds a bit daunting (which it is) we have been given a few pointers as to how this might be achieved which might include: the involvement of local conservation volunteers, training of local tradesmen in conservation techniques, and the on-site production of hand-made bricks.
We will need the continuing goodwill of Ransfords to achieve anything and I’ll be meeting with Alastair Evans from Ransfords soon to discuss this further.
Probably the next step is to arrange a detailed specification of what needs to be done and how much it will cost.
It is interesting to note that the weighbridge bed has a degree of free movement after many years out of use. The weighbridge itself was manufactured by S Parsons & Co Ltd of Bradford. There is a lead seal, that is probably from a Weights and Measures check, with the number 66. This suggests that the weighbridge was not used after 1967. We’ve heard from someone who remembers going with his father to buy coal in about 1965 when it was in use.
All that is visible on the scales is a plate stamped “15 TONS”. On the steelyard is stamped S Parsons and Co Ltd Bradford. St Georges Iron Works, Bradford became part of Light Castings in 1922 and Allied Iron Founders in 1929.
These websites show similar weighbridges
Google – parsons weighbridge -fifth down on results – Billingsley and Alveley Weighbridges) PDF. There is a picture of the Alveley weighing machinery on its side and it looks similar to our equipment.
This is an aerial view of the site about 1965ish. The weighbridge is slightly right of lower centre. The round topped building is still there and the lean -to has our plaque on it. The old platform is centre, with wood stacked on it, between the public hall (it had a round roof then)and the large building. The goods shed is beyond centre and the railway ran along the faint line towards the top right.
Ransfords and Alastair Evans have been most helpful and supportive and have given us full access to the site. It is important to say, however, that it is a busy industrial site and so, of course, it is not acceptable for anyone to wander about at will. Someone trespassing had to be chased off last week; there’s no suggestion that he was a Society member but we need be aware of this.