The restoration of Church Bridge

Between 18 April and 26 May 2017, 20 volunteers joined in with the restoration of Church Bridge, a Grade Two Listed humpback bridge, near the village of Melbourne.

HLF Volunteers restoring Church Bridge HLF Volunteers restoring Church Bridge_with HLF logo

Terrence Lee Conservation was appointed to train up and supervise volunteers over a six week period, and to carry out the priority restoration works on the bridge. Week one started with inductions and the considerable task of chipping out large sections of cement mortar.

Cement's the wrong material for historic buildings

Cement mortar was widely used to repoint historic buildings during the 70s and 80s, however it is now widely accepted that cement is detrimental to period brickwork. Cement is a very sticky, hard and non-breathable substance, whereas lime mortar is softer and can breathe. Lime mortar isn’t as tough as cement, however as moisture can pass through the lime mortar, it protects the bricks from ‘spalling’, where the faces start to crack and crumble off due to the movement of water. The repointing of brick buildings in lime mortar is now a widely recognised heritage conservation feature.

Using lime mortar

By the end of week two, volunteers learnt how to mix and repoint with lime mortar. The technique certainly takes a bit of practise, so we got quicker as the weeks went by! The lime mortar was matched (in terms of colour and texture) to the odd bits of remaining period mortar, and it turned out to be a very close match.

HLF Volunteers restoring Church Bridge

Week three saw the volunteers learning how to remove and replace any damaged bricks. We used a closely matched brick from the York Handmade Brick Company, which was as good a match as possible to get hold of.

Weeks four and five saw the volunteer team working on the inner parapets which border the road – we had a road closure in place to ensure everyone’s safety. There was a substantial amount of brick replacement work to be done due to vehicle strikes.

HLF Volunteers on Church Bridge

Week six saw the last week of the project, and the remaining snagging jobs (such as filling in gaps in the coping stones and the odd bit of missed repointing) carried out. The last day involved removing and storing the vast amounts of hessian that had been used to cover the walls – the hessian is wetted prior to being hung over newly re-pointed sections and then is re-wetted to ensure that the lime mortar cures slowly.

HLF Volunteers restoring Church Bridge

HLF Volunteers restoring Church Bridge

This was a great project to be involved with, and I’d like to thank all the volunteers that took part. See the photos on the Facebook Page.

Lizzie Dealey, Project Officer

Last date edited: 25 July 2017

About this blog

Pocklington Canal

'Pocklington Canal – a gem in the landscape', was a three year long project funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund that ended in August 2019. The blog posts on this page were written by the project officer.

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