conservation

Funding fears at SPAB

With the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) imminent there are fears for England’s heritage with government seeming to feel that this is a soft target. Indeed, in the current climate, it appears to be viewed as an unaffordable luxury. This is hugely worrying for all heritage organisations but no where more so than at the Society…

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Lighting history

Incandescent light bulbs (lamps) have illuminated the world for more than a century. They’ve done it in a way that has felt natural in historic interiors and has been flattering to the complexion because traditional tungsten filaments provide a spectrum of light not dissimilar to fire or candlelight. Now they’ve been banned in favour of…

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Old House Eco Handbook

Each time I write a book I say to myself “never again”. This is all very well but when a good idea comes along it’s hard to resist. Towards the end of 2010 I watched as the ink dried on my signature at the bottom of a contract for “a book provisionally entitled ‘The Old…

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The battle for Britain’s past

Heritage! The Battle For Britain’s Past is a welcome BBC Four series that charts the story of the movement to protect Britain’s heritage, from its early days in the 19th century right through to today. Produced in partnership with English Heritage, the series is a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe to the…

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Think before buying

Yesterday a double glazing salesman arrive at my door at the very moment the phone rang with a call from a solar panel saleswoman. Such annoyances are rarely quite so simultaneous but they are regular. This is one of the reasons I’m pleased to hear that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has written to…

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Winning renovations

What makes an award winner? It’s a question I’ve had to consider recently as a judge of the Best Renovation category of the What House? Awards. For anyone with a love of buildings, judging these awards is fascinating and thought provoking, although not always easy. A feature of renovations is that each one is different.…

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Retrofitting with care

Blogging here has been on hold recently because I’ve been busy writing my next book: Old House Eco Handbook. It’s a companion volume to Old House Handbook and, instead of focusing simply on the care and repair of buildings, it builds on the subject to consider all aspects of retrofitting from insulation to energy generation.…

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Beautiful brick

Conservation meets new build, meets sustainability. This was the theme that emerged from yesterday’s Brick Development Association (BDA) Conservation Day at the Building Centre in London. Dr Gerard Lynch, the acclaimed expert on historic brickwork and master bricklayer, was first to speak, proving that the art of creating fine brickwork hasn’t vanished despite the loss…

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The legacy of Angels

Rescuing buildings does more than preserve our built environment, it brings people and communities together. On this occasion it was within the plush interior of the Palace Theatre in London’s West End: the great and the good, celebrities and journalists and, importantly, people from across the country who had saved their local heritage. These people…

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Industrial heritage at risk

Taking the train out of London from Victoria, I invariably look across at Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Battersea Power Station. Its four iconic chimneys and the bulk of the cathedral-like building below never fail to stir some deep emotion. Now I know I’m not alone in such feelings: according to a poll, 80% of people…

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What is restoration?

In light of the debate stirred by the BBC’s Restoration Home, this seems a good time to think about some of the vocabulary used to describe what we do to old buildings. The general approach to their conservation was established in 1877 when William Morris founded The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).…

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