This was an extension that we built in 2006 in a village on the outskirts of Chippenham. The aim was to try to emulate the existing Victorian property by incorporating traditional methods and materials. The brick was an imperial hand-made type bedded in a cement/lime/grit type mortar. The brickwork also matched the English bond of the original house. We also matched the double dog-tooth string coursing and flat-arch details over the windows.
We also used re-claimed treble-roman tiles combined with a mop-stick ridge to complete the exterior of the extension.
This is the rear view of the extension. Note the ornate chimney which was built to match an existing chimney.
This chimney took two men a week to build above the ridge line. The bricks that formed the dog toothing and corbelling at the top of the chimney were all hand cut by us to ensure that we matched the original chimney as close as possible. You will be hard pushed to find a more ornate chimney on a cottage.
Note: the white patches on the bricks is efflorescence which is very common in hand-made bricks. This condition is caused by soluble salts crystallising on the face of the brick and will cease after a few years of weathering.
This is the view of one of the gable elevations showing the combination of hand-made brick with dressed Bath stone.
We also do stone work! This is a wall built in Seend, near Melksham.
We used 106 tonnes of freshly quarried stone which had to be all cut by
hand using stone axes and other hand tools. The reason we couldn't use
disc cutters is because it leaves a very smooth edge which doesn't look
aesthetically correct for the effect that your trying to create. We had
to build on top of an existing wall (dark stone) on two parts of the
This was the only part of the wall, which is 120m long, that was built from scratch. The wall is around 2m high and 500mm thick.
How's that for a nice flat wall? As you can see, we preferred to build
curved corners than square corners which made dressing the stone a bit
more interesting. We made the date stone with MMII (2002) from an old
quoin stone that was going to be dumped - we simply put a curve on it
and carved in the Roman numerals. .
Here is a sample panel of some of the stone work. You can see some axe
marks on the stone where it has been worked. The long stones are "tie"
stones which link the internal face to the external face - much the
same as a modern wall tie. The core of the wall is made up of layered
rubble and lime mortar.
We built this extension in Coate, near Devizes in 2004. We had to remove an existing tiled roof and construct a new storey using hand-made bricks. We constructed an open-collared roof which was then thatched with reed. The reed weighed in the region of nine tonnes just on the extension.
The existing roof, as you can see, is being re-thatched using ancient methods but slightly more modern tools. More photos of this project can be found in the "photo album".
This was an interesting project in Station Road, Chippenham which we carried out in 2000. We turned a three bedroom bungalow into a Plymouth Brethren meeting hall. The existing roof structure was removed and most of the internal walls were demolished leaving just a shell. We then set about blocking the existing windows, constructing a new roof and building new partitions.The Bungalow was totally transformed in about four months ready for the first meeting to take place.
This was an interesting carpentry project that was carried out at Great Thornham Farm in Seend in 2007.
Our task was to remove all the damaged and rotten elm rafters on this very old cow byre ready for conversion into a cafe. We retained all the heavy elm trusses but due to height constraints we had to raise all the truss collars. We re-used the elm collars by cutting new mortice and tenon joints and holding them in place with oak dowels - exactly the same way as when they were originally constructed over 300 years ago! Brick piers were then built to hold up the elm trusses.
More photos can be found in the photo album of this project.
This is a chimney, which we built in February 2011, in Chippenham (in the Causeway). Our task was to carefully dismantle the existing chimney, brick by brick, and re-build it using the reclaimed bricks to the original design. The chimney, which has five flues running up through it, was completely rebuilt using a lime mortar mix and given a "brushed" finish. This chimney was last constructed some when in the late 1800's and contains a mixture of 18th and 19th century bricks. The house which belongs to this chimney is over 300 years old so this chimney may have been re-built 3 or 4 times since it's original construction which is why you always have a mixture of bricks from different centuries.
This was the rear view after all the lead work had been finished. The lime mortar joints will appear to be bright in appearance until they have weathered down.
As the chimney is re-built we have to "parge" the internal surfaces of the chimney using the lime mortar. Parging is a form of rendering which is applied to protect the brickwork and mortar joints from soot. When soot and water mixes it forms a mild solution of sulphuric acid which eats away at the mortar joints - hence the need to re-build chimneys every once in a while.
One modern addition we did make to this chimney was to use stainless steel wall ties between the external walls and the flue partition walls.
We have even got involved with the Kennet and Avon canal! We spent six months during the winter of 1999 - 2000 working alongside a major Civil Engineer on the stretch of canal that goes though Seend Cleeve. Our task was to renovate five locks by replacing existing defective brick work and stone work. We also cut new lock-ladders into each lock and built several of the new by-weirs that relieve the water going into the lock system.