Tyntesfield must be the most well
known place among the scaffolding fraternity. Not for its work on the main
house, but work to the small cottages that dot the estate. One cottage in
particular jumps for attention and that was my old cottage that I resided in
while working for the Trust.
“Here we go again,” the cries from
the management will echo around the estate. “Oh dear,” is the whimper from the
building department. So let’s start shall the ball rolling shall we?
When I started residing in the
cottage, I reported rain infiltration through the roof around the chimney
stacks. Unfortunately there was no money for repairs, so after several years of
living with rising damp and now ever increasing water coming through the roof,
it was a toss up to see which would reach the stair landing first.
Then as luck would have it, the
smoke from my Rayburn was entering the bedroom next door and as a urgent safety
measure, my flu was to be lined.
What an opportunity to sort out the
damp I thought and with a crumbling stack it would make sense wouldn’t’t it? So
I asked if the unsafe stack would be sorted at the same time.
No was the cry. We don’t have the
money. And so just the lining was inserted.
Very shortly after, the wind
dislodged the chimney pots. In came the contractors who reported the whole stack
was unsafe. After much umming and ahhing it was decided to rebuild
Now I don’t claim to be the world’s
most knowledgeable building expert, but I can easily recognise sand and cement
mixes. This is because of the little bags that read Ordinary Portland Cement –
giving all my little secrets away here.
And so the stack was rebuilt and
the lead work renewed. Yippee no more leaks – even if the contractors cheated by
not using traditional mortar. Or so I thought.
The water still came in as fast as
before so I reported both leaks again.
An inspection of the damp patches
was undertaken and I was informed that I only had one patch damp as the work had
been done to the other. So when I piped up, not according to my damp meter and
the pencil line I had drawn around the wet to monitor its spread, I was over
ruled by the specialists.
And so the replacement of the lead
to stack number two went ahead. I watched the progress with
The first bit of rain and in it
came, the same old leak in the same room. Again I reported it.
You’ll have to put up with it I was
told, we don’t have the money. But didn’t we pay for repairs I asked? Once again
my attitude was questioned. But why are we paying for sub standard work, I
continued? A sort of aubergine look came across the manager’s face and she spat
out that I was lucky to be living in the cottage. Would be a bit more lucky if
it was dry I replied. That’s the bit that touched a nerve as then a row broke
Admittedly I was my own worst enemy
at times. One day the same manager pointed out a rainbow to me in a hope to
lesson the tension. It’s beautiful was the statement. Yes I agreed, just like
the ones I get in my living room.
Then the ridge tiles started to
fall away on the cottage. Once again the scaffold went up for the fourth
If only they would have asked me, I
would have told them the tiles on the roof are very rare indeed and we only have
a limited stock. So when the roofers turned up, this was the discovery, the
spare tiles only came to light on top of a skip at a latter date.
By now I had given up all hope as I
watched the incompetence continue all around.
Knowing full well that my time
was limited I gave up completely.
Home Farm House was completely re
roofed, but in the space of only a couple of years scaffolded a further two
times as roofing contractors tried to get it right.
Since leaving the estate, the
scaffold still seems to go up and down on the same Home Farm Cottage. I have
counted the scaffold going up three times since and the mason I work with has
somehow cracked the reason.
They are copying the great
cathedrals, he chimed. All cathedrals have ongoing scaffold work. They intend to
list it as Tyntesfield’s Cathedral and it will be a place of learning for masons
and roofers for years to come. So what will make it a religious place asks me?
Easy, he said. When they think they have solved the problems – the praying
So here’s a little test for the
visitors. After parking your car, if you look at all the chimneys to the cottage
by the car park, you will see two different colour mortars to the chimneys.
Which one is cement and which is lime mortar?
A Save Brian T-Shirt for the first
Be advised, it maybe worth phoning
before visiting to check if the scaffold will be up or down.
The pictures you can see are of the
varying scaffolds that have been erected over the years.