Just recently I have been working
on a house that is in private position on the Tyntesfield estate. It was while I
was finishing off some stone work to a barn, that I became aware of a large
vehicle approaching the house.
At most places this would not seem
a problem, but the only track to this property is very narrow and is only wide
enough for a car. This is why the approach of a car transporter truck stopping
at the gate made me smile.
The driver opened his window
(because he couldn’t get out) and asked if he had arrived at Rock Farm. I had to
inform him it was not and asked did your sat nav get you here? The reply was no,
a National Trust worker cutting the grass has pointed me this way. When the
driver had asked about the access he replied don’t worry the refuge lorries
drive up there. WRONG. The refuge lorries never drive along it, they won’t
The driver had now taken on a look
of despair as he realised he had to reverse all the way back, up hill and down,
around twisty bends with out the use of wing mirrors as the trees would hit
them. All of this was made possible by the village idiot on a fly
History helps us to learn by
mistakes. This was never the case at Tyntesfield. Some years previously, a 52
seater coach turned left out of the car park and ended up at the same house,
with 52 passengers ducking and diving as the trees hit the windows on both
sides. I arrived an hour after the coach had started to reverse and it was only
half way back. The reason for this being, there was only a matter of inches of
clearance and the directions were shouted by passengers that had taken refuge in
After this episode I would have
thought some sort of sign on width restriction would have been erected. But no,
the powers to be thought this would look out of place.
So now we come to the lorry that
got stuck. A big lorry, a very big lorry, just as big as the coach, only this
time the road was wet and slippery. It couldn’t get the traction for reversing
and so after hitting the wall in over a dozen places, it finally got stuck
So then another big lorry was
brought in to winch the first one out. On reaching the first one, this second
lorry broke down and so another bigger third lorry was brought in to move this
By the time the track was cleared,
the wall to the field was looking rather sorry for itself, and so off to the
property manager I went to report the damage.
The task of chasing up insurance
claims was passed on to the surveyor, who I must point out was one of the better
ones. This was some one who knew her arse from her elbow. Shame is, anyone half
decent never stood a chance there and so she fitted a tow bar to her car and
left to get a life.
But before she did she came to me
and said – the lorry insurance company will pay up. What is the cost of my time
and materials to do the work?
I gave her the cost and she
informed the insurance company. I waited for it to be added to my list of jobs.
Some time later, I had a meting with the property manager and the regional
surveyor regarding work. I flagged up the walling work and was told I didn’t
have time to do it. He would organise contractors. The trouble was contractors
would be more expensive and so there was not enough money from the insurance
company to cover this unless he went back to them.
Well the wall never got repaired
and after several bad winters several sections fell down leaving stone scattered
over the public foot paths and gaping holes for the cattle to walk through. The
overall cost of repairing this wall has now escalated way out of proportion. All
this was going on while I taught walling skills to other National Trust
properties, rebuilding their walls, while at Tyntesfield walls feel
After I was made redundant, the
Trust never had the in house skills on site to rebuild and maintain such
structures and so as the walls became a real danger and embarrassment, the
dangerous sections were removed and the stone piled in the quarry at the top of
The role of property managers as I
Interpret, is to safeguard the property of the National Trust and ensure claims
are made when appropriate to claim compensations from third parties to make good
any damage done, therefore, not causing significant financial loss to the
The story you have just read is
only part of the neglect to recoup compensation from third parties and as any
one that knows the estate will confirm, it was normal to have speeding cars park
upside down in our fields after demolishing walls. How many times was
compensation followed up? Never.
And so I stopped liaising with the
police after accidents to get driver detailsl. Bugger it why should I waste my
time passing it on to time wasters?
Since writing this, I happened to
be on my travels when I observed a National Trust member of staff ( in green)
stood at the road side looking at a hole in a wall that boarders a National
So being in between contracts I had
time to stop and chat. I was informed that the wall had been hit down by a
utilities vehicle and the warden had tracked down the culprits, chased it up and
was waiting for a representative of that company to make sure the wall was put
What a stark contrast in approach
to responsibilities, and very reassuring to know that there are staffs that go
the extra mile and make things happen, so credit where it’s due for once.