Slates, Gutters, and Broken Chimneys
It's getting to that time of year where the long days are feeling distant, the big coats are coming out, and the wind is blowing. With this change in the seasons comes a change in pace for conservation. Hopefully most of the big projects are finished by now, and we can turn our eyes to battening up the hatches for winter. For the team at Highlife, this often means a turn away from large scale masonry repairs and lime work, towards roofing repairs and inspections, making sure any issues are solved before the rain starts in full force.
Recently, we spent a few days working on a church in the Northwest of England. Our main job was to inspect the spire for it's quinquennial inspection, but we were also instructed to replace some missing slates and a broken flashing too. The spire and tower were in great condition, with historic repairs holding up well, and we were glad to only have to report on minor pointing issues. The missing slates went back in easily too, but when we went to have a look at the broken flashing, we were horrified to find a huge hole in the side of the chimney! The damaged side of the chimney wasn't visible from the ground, and so without a closer look no one would have been any the wiser. Fortunately, the chimney was fairly stable, but certainly a winter of heavy wind could change that situation, and so everyone involved was relieved that we had found the issue and a solution could be found. Situations like this are a solid reminder to always keep on top of anything untoward - something which looks minor can easily wind up being a whole lot worse!
Following this we revisited a lovely church in Cheshire which we had previously inspected, to replace some gutters around the slated spire, and replace any missing slates. Fortunately this time everything went more or less as we expected it to. As is the case on many churches, the old gutters were in a poor state and were clearly leaking badly. Unchecked, this can lead to a whole host of problems over the course of a few years. But with new gutters and some slate repairs this fine old building will survive another winter or ten!