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Welcome to the West Wycombe Village Project Blog written by a National Trust volunteer and supported by the National Trust. If it's your first visit, find out more about the project in our about section.



Thursday, 18 April 2013

Importance of being under a roof

Spring may finally have sprung but I chose a cold, wet and windy day for a tour of the scaffolding roof in West Wycombe Village. No regrets. It was fascinating. Two storeys up with my hard hat and high-visibility jacket I saw a secret world hidden to passersby. Hand-made tiles stacked high ready for installation, builders laying insulation and hammering timber boards into place. And a birds-eye view of the chimneys, second storey windows and old roof tiles.

Mark Wells, National Trust Project Manager, shared the importance of temporary scaffolding roofs. The nuclear winter and ludicrously wet weather  since late last summer would have delayed progress by at least six weeks without the temporary shelter. With emphasis he explains this is why the National Trust's investment on roofing is worthwhile: even if it's pouring with rain, the guys are up there working away making good progress.

It's worth saying these temporary roofs aren't always used when cheaper alternative solutions can be found. As it happens, year one began during the second wettest year on record. Fingers crossed for year two.

The video clip below and the hammering on my amateur audio track can attest to a busy hive of activity.
While trying to impress the remarkable value of the unique building materials, Mark can't be accused of being all builder. He adds that if we didn't have the roof and got really bad weather then water would seep into the tenant homes and temperatures would be absolutely freezing.

Roof lifting

This refurbishment work is a huge, once in a lifetime opportunity to not only carry out essential long-lasting repairs but a chance to literally to see through walls and lift roofs to explore history deeper than ever before.
The RSA rescue of 1934 was the most recent roof-lifting opportunity but from what I’ve gathered, it had neither the scope nor technology to probe like the National Trust is probing today. Theirs was also more urgent rescue and repair work, described as “reconditioning” in their RSA Journal account of 1933.
And then in the 1990s, a fairly large-scale study explored the historical origins of the buildings but without actual building work, access was relatively limited.

These 1990s studies however did help form Vernacular Building Surveys on many of the village buildings. A vernacular building survey (or a VBS) is a general overview of the construction and significant historical features of the building. They help show the evolution of the village.
Exposed timber of West Wycombe cottages

Owls land in West Wycombe 

Rescued owls need homes in West Wycombe
If predictions are to be believed, we may finally see real sunshine in May. This will be welcome news for the village and visitors to its high street (see the Parish council's visitor information page for a listing of shops and other attractions). The other day I paid a visit to the village's newest arrival and Dashwood Estate tenant who is not quite a shop but still seeks custom and has his own construction work in progress.  Located within the West Wycombe garden centre, or the Anlex Garden Centre as it's now called, Terry the owl man is building an aviary to house his rescued owls, but still needs about £4,000 to complete the build. When I paid my visit to the Owl & Pet Rescue Centre his two volunteers were digging a heap of wood mulch for the birds' bedding, while visitors paid a pound to hold and stroke the formerly abandoned owls which can also be sponsored. Like the other high street shops Terry is hoping for sunshine probably more than most when his stall finally sets up shop. 
Aviary in construction, West Wycombe Hill in the distance

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