Project team resumes work on Old Postern roof repairs

by | Jun 10, 2021

Work on the Old Postern is well underway again after a year of challenges due to Covid restrictions.

The project team completing repairs to the roof of the historic 13th Century building, home to Schumacher College on Dartington Estate, have had a difficult 12 months compounded by problems with supply chains in the construction industry, timber shortages and working around the bat-mating season.

Repairs underway on the Old Postern’s roof
Mark Taylor, finance and estate services director, said juggling all the requirements meant it was one of the most challenging projects he had ever been involved with.

“We have been extremely fortunate with our contractor and our professional team. Killbride roofing, Jo Hibbert conservation architect, EAD ecology and Paul Carpenter associates structural engineers – they are working really well together under the watchful and supportive eye of Historic England and South Hams District Council Conservation Officer.

“I do find sometimes that I am having to plan on the fly to manage all the different aspects but it’s a privilege to be part of a project bringing this wonderful historic building back to life.”

Mark said the level of complexity and scale of the project, compounded by the challenges presented by Covid, was something none of them could have predicted.

He gave the example of needing to source a particular type and size of reclaimed slate for certain parts of the roof. In order to do this the project team need to wait until another large building with suitable slate is ready to be stripped, hope that there will be the available labour to do that, and then be able to negotiate a deal on the slate without another contractor purchasing it first.

On stripping the roof the project team made the unexpected discovery of some lime, formerly used as way of managing moisture levels, but now regarded as unsafe, which had to be carefully removed.

“It’s a fascinating project to be involved with,” said Mark.

“It’s been really interesting for me working with all these different professionals, construction teams and crafts people – but I have probably learned far more than anyone needs to know about slate,” he joked.

Mark said it is hoped that roof will be completed by Christmas, which although later than originally planned, given all the challenges, would be an incredible achievement by everyone involved.

Mark said Dartington Trust is incredibly grateful for the generous donation which has allowed this project to proceed and he was looking forward to returning the building to Schumacher College repaired and fit for purpose in the College’s 30th anniversary year.