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2011 News

Thanks to the insurance work was recommenced with improved security fencing. Again, the box started to take shape thanks to many hours of labour.

It was not however until the end of March 2011 that an insurance settlement was finally received and those behind the project could once again start work again. It was conservatively estimated that the work before us was now three times that which we had originally taken on. The supporting framework on the east and south sides of the building was beyond repair. All the cladding up to the level of the upper windows was destroyed together with all the stud work. The inner floor, only constructed when the building was moved, was also beyond repair. The lower windows, with the exception of one frame which had been off site for repair, were also destroyed. Many of the upper, large windows, especially those towards the south of the building, were damaged and cracked and some 6 or 8 frames needed repairs or to be replaced. One section of soffits and fascia were damaged as were three sections of original cast iron guttering. The south east corner post needed extensive replacement as it had twisted out of position as a result of the heat from the flames and another post had areas needing re-facing. In all, the damage amounted to somewhere in the region of 60% of the building. Thankfully the roof remained intact if somewhat covered in soot, grime and smoke damage.

It was agreed by all those concerned that there was very little point in continuing the restoration work until the site could be secured and to this end the grants from Aldingbourne Parish Council, the Joint Downlands Area Committee and the Aldingbourne Community Sports Centre were used to install a perimeter fence. A short while after the Trust installed CCTV.

Our first restoration task was the repair and rebuilding of the ground floor door, which had been kindly donated back to us by Craig Howard. Over the Christmas period Richard Medlock painstakingly took the burnt remains of the door to pieces. Using the remaining pieces as a pattern he made new sections and then re-built it. It was installed almost immediately following our decision to continue with the project.

The first task was to remove all the debris, including what remained of the upper floor. With the floor removed we employed a local firm, Cleaning Consultants Contractors Ltd, to blast the remains of the building to clean away the burnt debris so that the full extent of the fire damage could be evaluated.

With this task complete the Trust employed a civil engineer, Andrew Smith and McCurdy Co Ltd to undertake the structural repairs needed. McCurdy’s were recommended to us as having plenty of experience in restoring damaged wooden building, many of an historical nature. The company were responsible for building the Shakespearean Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames in London. Once the correct timber was imported from Canada McCurdy’s started work in June 2011

By July, with the structural work completed, volunteers led by our local carpenter, Richard Medlock started the renovation in earnest. Inside the building a new floor was laid with, following representations from the BRMRC, a hole in it to accommodate an internal stairway

Whilst the carpenters from McCurdy & Co. replaced the main parts of the structure damaged by the fire the volunteer force focused their attention on the restoration of the upper windows. Thanks go to Aldwick Glass Centre who cut each pane for the 116 upper windows together with the 48 panes for the lower windows. This was by no means an easy task as over the years with replacement windows and repairs no two panes were the same size.

The mammoth task of preparing the frames for glazing, by removing the fire damaged glass, putty and paint and giving them a once over with primer took from May to September to complete. A number of the frames had suffered damage over the years or from the fire and therefore also required repairs. Our thanks go to our volunteer carpenter Ian Coombes who spent time repairing the frames. many And to Richard who gave up many of his Saturday mornings cutting the profile on the inserts of timber to make sure all the frames looked alike. In September 2011, after almost 5 month of work, the last re-glazed window was re-installed.

The following five months, during which time we all began to wonder if paint brushes were a natural extension to our fingers, three coats of undercoat and two top coats of paint were applied to the frames. On at least four Saturdays we were forced to stop painting as the water based paint was freezing as we brushed it on. Every available weekend, and occasionally on the odd weekday, window frames were being lifted in and out of their frames to be painted. Fixing the windows into place was achieved by using small pieces of wood nailed to the surrounds. The windows were in and out so many times we began to create our own version of woodworm holes; luckily these would, in time, all be filled and covered over with beading. Towards the end of November the scaffolding was lowered to provide access in order to paint the external timbers around the newly installed upper windows. For the first time we could see the signal box without its shroud of protective plastic and yes there was even more painting.

Back in July 2011 whilst the windows were still being prepared over 120m plus of stud work between the sills and the large upper floor windows were cut and put into place. With this particular task completed Jack Newton regularly attended the signal box and set about cutting and putting into place the cladding. Painting was again the main task. The outside of the building has since received 5 coats of paint, three undercoat and primer and two top coats. We think there will be 2 or 3 further coats before we finish.

In early August 2011 the Trust was given a tremendous boost with a second large grant from the Railway Heritage Trust and the future of the project to restore the Barnham Signal Box was assured. With careful management we believe this grant, together with money already obtained, will see the project through to completion. Our sincere thanks go to the Railway Heritage Trust.

By November 2011 Richard Medlock had started work on the internal stairs, a new addition to the signal box which before its move had no access between the two floors. The work involved several days of labour in his work shop and then on-site fitting the staircase into place.

With the cold during the winter months, as previously mentioned, painting became impossible except for an hour either side of mid-day. Even inside the building the water based paint simply froze as it was used. Work, with the exception of a few outside tasks, virtually stopped during the winter months


Posted by admin, 13 Aug 2015
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