Monthly Archives: April 2015


I’m starting to get the hang of re-pointing with lime mortar.   The pointing on the south gable was eroded to a depth of around 10-15mm and needs to be raked out and replaced.

I’ve found a local sharp sand which appears to match the original sand very well.  It is a plastering sharp sand from nearby Leighton Buzzard and contains aggregate up to 2mm.    The sharp sand I was using last year was concreting sand with a max aggregate size of 5mm which is much too big for bricks.

So far I haven’t found anyone to re-point the house but the job is taking me too long to be sensible.



The roofers arrived on Monday and have already stripped the rear of the roof.  The tiles are generally in good condition and have been stacked ready to go back on.


There was nothing much wrong with the rear of the roof other than a few rusty tile fixings.  The structure is good.  The top couple of courses of brick on the gable were loose so I’ve rebuilt them in lime to match the pointing.


For a couple of days the roof will be covered by a tarpaulin while insulation is fitted.


Then the roof was felted and battened, and the tiles stacked ready to be reattached. We’ve retained the old gutter which is still out of shape but should now be functional.


By the middle of May the rear roof is going back on.  That’s Milton in the photo hammering in copper nails.  Most slates are original but we are adding tile and a half slates at the gables which are new and won’t match exactly.  The conservation officer commented on them, but they did allow a more sensible overhang than half tiles.


The ducks are back

It was about this time last year that the ducks arrived and they are back again. Last year they seemed to live in the garden for a couple of days, then flew in to eat the duck food every now and again for a further few weeks.

This year they stayed for a day then met next door’s cat.  Ducks don’t seem to like cats and we haven’t seen them since.


Edit – there was a noise that sounded like a cat being attacked by a duck one evening.  Ducks are back again and we haven’t seen the cat since.

Paint Stripping – The South Wall

The paint stripping has been completed apart from the tidying up.   The South gable is very prominent when turning the corner into the High Street at the bottom of The Hill.  There is a very odd stepped gable which doesn’t work in Magnolia paint.

Driving home from work one day I saw the magnolia had disappeared from the top of the south gable.  For me it transformed the building into something nice instead of the eyesore I am used to.  Though the flat roof toilet block still needs a bit of work.


The south elevation was painted quite recently –  at some point after 1987.  The bricks haven’t suffered any damage and the whole wall has a consistent colour.   Apart from the north gable I think most of the building was rebuilt in 1910.


The pointing is in a poor state.   Being a tenanted building the place has been neglected since it was built.  That’s a wonderful thing.  Nobody has filled the gaps with difficult to remove cement to trap water and damage the bricks.   My mission over the next few months is to re-point in lime mortar and sharp sand (and rebuild the top of the wall in the photo which is made from levitating bricks).


Finally another picture of some bath stone, this time below the curved bay window in the snug.  The building work from 1910 was carried out to a very high standard.


More Paint Stripping

The paint stripping is progressing quickly.   The east and north walls have been completed.


The north wall didn’t strip as well as the east wall.   There is a diagonal line up the building where the wall was raised in 1910.  The lower bricks should be sooty but are soft like the barn, and like the barn they have been damaged by the effects of waterproof paint and it’s removal.


It is fashionable these days to be able to ‘read’ old buildings and the north wall does not disappoint as it also shows the outline of the earlier 1646 building.  At least we thought it was the outline but it’s looking like there might be some of the original building hiding under lime render on lath applied in the late 19th century.  We can’t remove the paint without damaging the render, but don’t want to leave waterproof paint on there.   We’ve left it for now pending research and advice.


The front door surround looks like bath stone.  It stripped well.  I don’t know why someone thought magnolia would look nicer.   We originally thought the stone had been salvaged from another building, but there is also bath stone above and below the bay windows so it looks like it was cut for the property.


There is evidence of writing over the front door.  It is possible to make out the words licensed, spirits, and tobacco.   The top line is the name of the landlord at the time, William T Davey.   He was  the landlord from 1910 to 1933.   We think the facade was constructed in 1910.    Edit – more likely 1921.


The stonework above the door and the stonework on the window sills has some surface damage.  It looks like it was rough before but the paint stripping has caused more damage.


Paint Stripping

The paint stripping started before the scaffolding was finished which was useful as the paint stripper needed to increase the coverage of the sheeting.

The problem with the magnolia (apart from how horrible it looked) was that it was waterproof.  The wall was sodden wet behind the paint causing damp and freezing damage,


I’ve had a go at paint stripping before.  This time I got some professionals in – Craig Ginn from Dartford who uses stripper and a DOFF steam system to remove paint.

Most of the paint came off in sheets with a steam jet wash and paint stripper.  It needed a couple of applications of stripper to get rid of all the paint.


Behind the paint we’ve mostly found good bricks.  There is a bit of mix and match from different building phases and alterations, but it already looks a lot nicer than the magnolia.



It’s Easter and the winter break is over.  The scaffolding started going up yesterday.  The intention is to complete any exterior work that needs doing before it comes down again at the end of June.

The paint strippers arrive next week to remove the magnolia paint from the brickwork.   Then the roofer will remove and re-fit the tiles and replace the lead work.  Some of the wood looks to be in a poor state so that will need dealing with.  Finally I’ll re-point in lime and paint anything that needs painting.


The scaffold has been covered with sheeting, partly because paint stripping is a messy business, but mostly for the effect.


The scaffolding was put up by Trueform Scaffolding of Willington, Bedfordshire.