Marine Court, St. Leonards-on-Sea

Marine Court, St. Leonards-on-Sea
... along the prom ...

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sustainable Solutions for Old Windows

Plastic windows are often put into older buildings, to ‘upgrade’ old single glazed wooden windows. They can provide improvement in insulation via double-glazing and improved draft-proofing and so are often viewed as the sustainable solution. This is belied by their limited longevity, the PVC-U they are manufactured from gives them an expected maintenance free life of not much more than 30 years, at the end of which it is more likely that they are discarded and replaced than maintained.  There is a huge carbon footprint created in their manufacture and replacement and waste plastic is an increasing environmental problem.  
Old sash Windows don't have to be as beautiful
and rare as those on this Queen Anne townhouse
to be well worth preserving and restoring.

Listed historic buildings cannot be sympathetically re-fitted with modern plastic windows and the appearance of many otherwise handsome, unlisted buildings has been spoilt by the addition of carelessly chosen replacement windows. The making, rebuilding and repairing of sliding sash windows is now a reviving market which deserves encouragement

Wooden window frames and sashes of whatever age can be easily repaired if they have not been allowed to rot, though sliding sash windows in particular are often seen by the inexperienced as more trouble than they are worth to restore.  However weights, sash cords and other traditional sliding sash accessories are readily available from specialist suppliers and slender, pre-manufactured double glazing units can be used to replace original Victorian glass, which was often especially thick in larger windows. An expertly restored wooden sliding sash should be no harder to open and close than a UPVC replacement and will let in more light than a thicker framed plastic window, as is noted in the Building Regulations.
Marine Court, St Leonards, a 1930’s work of art made more
ordinary by the later, indiscriminate insertion of randomly
chosen windows and the infilling of balconies in the
apartments to the left. The sustainable solution here
is not obvious
UPVC can now be recycled and one major manufacturer of window profiles and other parts recycles up to 90% of old UPVC windows, including the glass, on their site in Derbyshire, though even this process has a carbon footprint in the energy used. The RecoVinyl Scheme is a European wide initiative to collect and recycle used  PVC building products to support the Vinyl 2010 Voluntary Commitment. The British Plastics Federation claims that, since inception of the scheme, the UK has led the way in the volume of PVC collected and recycled in Europe. The question is, how many discarded UPVC window actually do get recycled? Figures are lacking and it may be that too many still go to landfill and incinerators.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Pier of the Year

Hastings re-vamped pier has won a prestigious award, Pier of the Year :-

In the competition judged by the National Piers Society, Hastings have beaten off beat off Worthing pier which came second for the third year running.  Llandudno pier tookthird place.

Hastings 145-year-old structure was hit by a devastating fire in 2010 but it reopened last year following a £14.2m restoration project.

Gavin Henderson, National Piers Society president, called the pier "a phoenix" and Maria Ludkin, the chair of Hastings Pier Trustees, said: "We are absolutely delighted that our wonderful community-owned pier has won this prestigious award."

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Things Men Do with Ladders; Number 17

If the example of this genre that I posted on 11 January is impressive and quite ingenious, this one is quite mad. Ok, it seems to be working, except that he's almost standing on tiptoe because he's still not high enough up to reach whatever the hell it is that he's trying to do. And what happened the minute after the photographer left?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Full Gasometer

Here's the complete text of my article on Gasometers

Gasometer; The Rise and Fall of an Industrial Icon.

Is there a gasometer near you? If there is, take a few photographs for posterity because this iconic part of our industrial heritage won't be around for much longer. They were ubiquitous up until the 1960’s; nearly every UK town had its own gasworks, providing reassuring views of the accompanying gasometer as it rose and fell almost mysteriously in the middle distance. We were all very used to them, so their slow demise has hardly registered. Most stopped rising and falling from the introduction of North Sea Gas onward and today, gas arrives from elsewhere, coming ashore from the North Sea or across from Europe to arrive at one of seven UK processing terminals such as the one at Bacton in Norfolk. A few gasometers still rise and fall, but now they are simply used for temporarily balancing the system, not for providing the local gas supply.

This rather elegant lattice structure is part of Huddersfield's column-guided gasometer (or gas-holder), a familiar sight near the town centre just off the Leeds Road. Any fan who has ever ever attended a match starring either the Huddersfield Giants or Huddersfield Town F.C. and tried to locate the John Smith (formerly the Galpharm) Stadium will have either used the gasometer as a landmark to find their way, or parked in its shadow.

Strictly speaking this is the structure which supports the telescopic gas holder as it rises and falls according to how much gas is inside, sealed in by the water reservoir underneath. This column- guided, telescoping gasometer design was invented in 1824 to conveniently contain ‘town gas’ which was produced using coal. However well before this, a coal ‘gasification’ process was creating gas in useful quantities, which was kept in rigid containers and used for lighting in factories and workshops. These coal gases were far from pure, consisting of numerous substances including methane, carbon monoxide and sulphur, they went through purification processes to be reliably and safely useful.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Things Men do With Ladders number 16

This impressive example of the genre was sent to me by my friend Corky in California, though the man on the ladder is painting the church clock in Mussina, South Africa.  I hope he completed the job... 

You might just think that this is simply a man on a long ladder doing a job that requires two hands?


Further down, he and his ladder are balanced on a cantilever arm created out of planks of wood with a human counterweight sitting on them, while holding the ladder with a rope....

There's more...

Quite an impressively ingenious contraption these two have devised. This is clever enough to warrant the label 'construction.'

Of course the chances of this going wrong are as high as painting the clock face. And how did he actually get up there.  

However he got up there, you could call this a Stairway to Heaven ...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Hastings Pier is Up and Running again

The 144-year-old Hastings Pier, originally designed by Eugenius Birch, and Grade II Listed since 1976, has reopened this year, eight years after closure and six years after the structure was almost totally destroyed in a devastating fire in October 2010. The blaze, thought to have been started by vandalism, destroyed the pier head ballroom, all of the kiosks and stalls, much of the decking and one of the two curved pavilions. No one has been prosecuted.

The revived pier, with restored 1916 pavilion to the left. 

Following the fire English Heritage assessment confirmed that the heritage value of the substructure remained, so an application was submitted for funding to the Heritage Lottery at the end of November 2010 to restore the substructure of the Pier and renovate the remaining pavilion. Heritage Lottery trustees visited the pier on 16 March 2011 to assess the application. Hastings Borough Council were granted £100k toward emergency works by to pay for structural supports to be applied to the central section which was weakened by the loss of the deck in the fire.
5 October 2010, the blaze destroyed most of the
structures on the pier and damaged the substructure