Pick n Mix comes to Tyntesfield

July 21, 2010

After about three years of the National
Trust owning Tyntesfield, the head conservation officer – Ms Hectare head of
collection – realised there was
a builder’s yard full of reclaimed materials including the complete clock tower
taken down some years past.


Now, as you know, under its previous owner, nothing was ever thrown away but
recycled or sat in a pile waiting to be used. It was these piles of materials
that I used regularly to maintain the estate properties.


This all changed with the conservation big wig that I have called Ms Hectare,
who put a personal preservation order on the whole area,making it of special
archiological interest which no one was to touch.


This left me rather snookered as we had no money to buy new materials. Now I
had to acquire bits and pieces to repair the estate and try to keep it


It was just recently while the
contractors were re-roofing that a lot of roof tiles in the don’t touch area had
to be moved. Now some of these had sat there for many years. Some of the tiles
were very rare indeed. When the skips turned up I took an interest in what was
going on. I was shaken by the amount of historic tiles being thrown

I immediately contacted the manager
overseeing this operation and was informed that they should only be moving them.
At this I replied, I think they need supervising.

The following day the skip was
starting to fill up with more historic tiles in very good condition, so again I
contacted the office. Oh dear not again was the reply.


A few nights later I was amazed to
find local people around the skip pulling out perfect tiles, some of them very
rare and expensive. Just come back to get some more to finish me garden edging
said one. Bloody shame to waste all these pan tiles said another filling a wheel

Now a kill joy I try not to be, but
I had to point out that they shouldn’t have been in the skip in the first place
and they shouldn’t be removing them. A well know volunteer then pulled up in his
car to claim his share as he had a roof to repair at home. I was disgusted at
what was being thrown away, so with my hands in the air I went home,

This débâcle went on for some time.
The contractors would throw them in the skip and the locals and volunteers would
take them out. Theft or not who was I to judge?
The good thing about the
tiles ending up in village was that stories started to emerge about where and
when they had got to the estate in the first place. Evidently, a large
consignment came in from Belgian in the sixties to replace tiles on certain

The tile incident happened around
the same time Woolworths were closing all their stores. At the time, I made up
my mind what the title of this story was to be called.

As for Tyntesfield’s head of
collection, I expect she was busy watching for blind badgers on the driveways,
waiting to throw another blockade across the roads.
Rumours have it she was
approached by the PSNI to help with the controversial Drumcree orange

Over the years there has been wide
spread destruction of valuable assets on the estate. This includes several large
wooden garages in mint condition that was deemed an ideal project for youth
offenders to smash to pieces. I managed to sell the last one that was destined
for the fire and gave the money to the Trust. All I did was put an advert in the
Trade It and the phone never stopped ringing.

Another good idea by the Trust was
to hold bonfire projects. This was where groups would come onto the estate and
gather materials for an end of year bonfire. All those that participated would
come back for the occasion.

Some bright spark decided that all
the timber that was stored at stable yard would make a good clear out for the
fire project.

The first I knew of it was when I
discovered it all on the pile in the middle of a field awaiting burning. By now
I had had enough of the bollocks that went on, so I left it where it was –
getting soaking – and every time I required some timber for a repair project I
went to the merchants.

It was not long after, I was
questioned about the amount of money I was spending on materials. It’s quite
simple I said. You decided to burn all my wood, so I have to buy more. Why would
I want to burn your wood says the manager. You tell me says I. You’re in charge
of the project plans and day to day running of the estate aren’t you?

At this point my attitude was once
again questioned so after the long drawn out lecture, I decided to bow my head,
agree to look at my attitude etc etc etc…

On reaching the office door, I
turned and asked for a purchase order for materials. What do you need this time
was the question? Timber I said with an innocent tone, Oh and fire lighters