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News article created on 2 August 2013

An insight into how we manage our historic structures

First thing Wednesday morning I met with East Midlands waterway manager Sean McGinley at Scotter Lane Bridge on the Chesterfield Canal. The purpose was to carry out a heritage audit to ensure heritage standards are being met, that the job was thoroughly planned, specified and the work quality is up to scratch.

The purpose was to carry out a heritage audit to ensure heritage standards are being met, that the job was thoroughly planned, specified and the work quality is up to scratch.

Our construction team are busy repairing and rebuilding the brick parapets which had fallen into pretty bad shape with considerable vegetation, loose and spalled bricks and lots of missing pointing.

We began, armed with the Environmental Appraisal, our heritage process and best practice guidelines and worked through the questions discussing points with the team on site. The formal heritage audit is a new check to ensure we’re managing work to our heritage assets well; the outcome is less about scoring and more about discussing and working through any issues so we can learn together how to improve things next time. It’s also a way to ensure those all-important conversations between national advisors and senior managers takes place.

If we’d found any serious breaches of policy, process or third party damage, we’d have raised a non-compliance report and investigated, but we were pleased to find the work here has been well planned and so far is being carried out to a great standard.

The bridge isn’t listed, within a conservation area or benefitting from any other legal heritage protection, but like so many of our heritage assets it’s no less important to us as an individual structure or for the very positive impact it has on the canal and its surroundings. We’ve managed to find a great (new) brick match, and they’re being laid in hydraulic lime mortar to ensure both new and old bricks are well protected and the masonry retains its breathability, flexibility and traditional appearance. The weather’s been a bit of a challenge, with the high temperatures setting the mortar quickly and so requiring extra care and management, but with our visit came the rain (so our only immediate action for the team was to get the tarpaulins out to protect the newest work).

The whole audit took about an hour, but highlighted some minor points for future work such as other enhancements which might have been considered and a very useful discussion with the bricklayer about the extent of ‘minimal intervention’ during repointing (both to protect/retain solid original fabric and because costs still have to be controlled).

We’re planning to do four of these audits per year, per waterway; having only completed this one so far it’s heartening to see a project well on track for a great finish and its clear useful points for future projects will be gained in the process.

 Tom Woodcock; Heritage Advisor for East Midlands and Central Shires.

About this blog

Heritage team

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.

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