Angela Raynor MP took the time to visit Tame Aqueduct this month, to discuss the repairs to this Grade Two listed structure – and the impending repairs to the Palace of Westminster.
Angela was elected as Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne, Droylsden & Failsworth as Labour MP in 2015 and she is now the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, and it turns out she has more than a passing interest in heritage matters.
We were keen to show her and her colleagues around, and once suitably attired with hard hat and high-vis jacket she was clambering up and down the scaffolding like a pro.
As always, I’m enthusiastic to demonstrate how we go about repairing our historic structures, and Tame Aqueduct is a real conservation challenge. Angela understood the philosophy of our approach straightaway, and how we try to retain as much original material as possible, match new materials with old, and not be frightened of making honest repairs when we need to.
That’s when the discussion turned to the restoration work at the Palace of Westminster and the problems of budget and the different reactions to the work from those affected by it. At 40 years younger than Tame Aqueduct it may be a bit bigger project, but the conservation approach, and challenges, for its repair will be the same.
We discussed the detail of the work being undertaken on site, and how much of the masonry under the three aqueduct arches has had to undergo repairs. In some areas it is in very poor condition with some blocks having completely broken away.
Using matching stone blocks, the skilled masons have hand dressed each piece before they are pinned into place. Angela was taken with the slight variation in each of the mason’s style of stone dressing and wanted to know if they had left their ‘mark’ in the same way the original builders had in the 1790s.
I did ask, but whilst our masons would not make any personal identification marks on the front of stones there’s always the chance they have left their moniker on the back. They say not, but as their skilled work should hopefully last another 200 years, it will be down to someone far in the future to have a chance to check for sure!
Judy Jones, heritage advisor
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.See more blogs from Heritage team