Unbelievable! That’s the cry echoed by myself and another mason as we took in
the rebuilding project to the walls at Tyntesfield estate.
These are walls I covered in a previous story and thought no more about it
until I met a retired mason from Wraxall that told me the National Trust are
changing the colour of the estate, very badly, and seem to be undertaking this
madness in the freezing weather using lime mortar.
After listening to his story for a while I promised I would go and have a
look. It didn’t take long to find. It is situated on the foot path from the
Battle Axes to the estate. A high profile position and ideal for impressing the
A token effort of Hessian had been put on top of what looked like a pile of
stones randomly stuck together with a yellow lime mortar mix. There was no sign
of profiles for lines, in fact anything that would indicate a professional
approach and the results are clear to see.
As the existing wall had been built with black mortar, this colour was not so
much in your face, it simply slapped it. I’m not really sure if the cover was
for the weather or to stop the public from falling about laughing.
This is not the only rebuilding project that has been undertaken by
volunteers that has raised my eyebrows. Some photos of rebuilt walls at the saw
mills was passed to me. The sender of the pictures was a friend of mine, a
surveyor by profession who decided to look at the progress being made at
Tyntesfield. Overall he said the work was excellent but he did come up with an
interesting snagging list.
So after looking at the wall to the foot path, I took in the sight of the
wall to the saw mills and came to the conclusion: If this is the face of the
National Trust, it’s in need of some major surgery. A party was even held to
celebrate the completion of this wall.
The Tyntesfield propaganda reads:
Tyntesfield a place of learning excellence.
So where has all the HLF money
gone that should supply the estate with experienced instructors? Why are thing
being done slip shod and what real achievement can be acquired by building some
thing sub standard?
Tyntesfield. Date(s). 12/11/2010 – 14/11/2010. Task. Stone walling Gain
expert training in lime mortar stone walling as you work alongside our
This is what we found advertised on the web. I would seriously question the
standard of training that was given. This is not the first time this has
happened. I have had to retrain persons after they paid for a walling course
when they came to put their skills to work on another National Trust project I
As for the expert instructors (and NT surveyors) I would gladly meet them on
site to discuss the wall in question. (Contact through this site)
It’s a fact that you can be the best tradeperson in the world, but to put
that skill across to students is also another skill ,and at times much
What we build to day will be a bench mark for those that follow. Already we
have highlighted the poor standard of achievement in other areas of the estate
and unfortunately, this now seems par for the course.
Before I go, I will try to be positive with some information.
To Whom It May Concern, take existing mortar samples to a lime mortar
specialist. They will analyse it for free amd they will tell you what the exact
mix should be.
They will supply all the materials, you just add water
(and no cement).
Also, get recognised walling instructors to lead the rebuilding, nothing
worse than the blind leading the blind.
Do not build with traditional lime during the winter or the freezing will
destroy the lime (as it has).
Should you have trouble finding this supplier and a qualified instructor, you
may contact this site and we will happily send you the information.
Prior to being made redundant, I ran some courses on hedge laying on a hedge
that divided a neighbours land. Hedge laying is the correct way of managing and
rejuvenating hedge rows. Initially I only planned to lay about 30 meters, but
the courses became so popular the Trust was sending staff from all over the
country to learn.
On some days I had to enlist several helpers as the popularity of the courses
grew. One such group were the sixth formers from a local school – two bus
I even had to call in the very warden that the National Trust at Tyntesfield
made redundant to help me out.
As the popularity of the courses grew, so did the head managers resentment. I
was called into her office and told to run no more as my ordinary work of
sweeping leaves and trying to work without a work shop was being neglected.
It seems that while I was busy making progress with sharp implements,
management were sharpening theirs for other reasons.
And so it all stopped. But not before we completed hundreds of meters of
hedge. Not bad I thought for a taster project.
Since I left, the hedge was planned to be finished but nothing ever happened.
The excuse was, we don’t have the money to pay for an instructor. Yes it beggars
belief doesn’t it?
Take note, there is a story pending regarding hedge laying
/redundancy. Emails from A North Somerset councillor all incorporated in a story
that throws light on managing staff that couldn’t find their back side in a
sauna (What’s new?)