Planning the Conservation Workshops by Aldo Ierubino
I recently acquired the former Probation Office in Museum Square and I am currently engaged in the process of repair, conservation and restoration of the building in order to return it to something close to its state as a house in the second half of the 19th century when John Goward and his family lived in there. If you are wondering who John Goward was, he was mayor of Wisbech in 1890, and the Postmaster. As a Trustee of the Wisbech Society I am particularly concerned with the architectural heritage of Wisbech and its preservation. As an owner of such a building, I am gaining first-hand experience of the issues that present themselves to owners of listed buildings and I hope to use this to help others. This is why I wanted to be involved in the delivery of a series of Conservation Workshops funded by the Wisbech High Street Project.
Did you know that there are more than 200 listed buildings in Wisbech? Listed status means that these are buildings of historical and architectural interest and that there is an obligation to maintain and preserve them. Perhaps you are the owner of one or a resident in such a building therefore it will be of interest to you that the Wisbech Society, Wisbech High Street Project and FDC Conservation Officers are jointly developing a series of workshops over the next four years to promote and encourage good practice and provide advice for owners and custodians of listed buildings. The first will take place this year in August and will focus on conservation issues relating to maintenance of windows and controlling damage caused by damp in buildings.
The primary purpose of these workshops is to promote awareness of conservation issues and provide good practice guidance from experts in the field as well as practical advice for the upkeep and preservation of these buildings. As part of the project we are compiling a record of all these buildings along with their current listed status in order to increase awareness of the rich architectural heritage of Wisbech. In this context the partnership between the High Street Project and the Wisbech Society in developing and promoting these workshops will be of long-term benefit to the town. By creating a link between the immediate objectives of the Heritage Lottery Fund project for the improvement of the High Street and the present and future conservation of the architectural fabric of Wisbech represented by listed buildings, the workshops and their outcomes will provide a sustainable legacy.
The format of the day-long workshops will allow for the presentation of expert guidance and advice relating to specific issues of conservation along with site visits in Wisbech to look at the practical impact of these issues to specific listed buildings. By combining expert advice with the onsite application of that advice, participants will be able to assess the ways in which they can apply this practical advice to their own building.
To support the objectives of the workshops we will be producing a booklet covering specific conservation issues along with advice about additional sources of information. We will also be encouraging the use of a ‘logbook’ approach to record the issues relating to a particular property, repair work carried out and the monitoring of the building as well as the recording of ongoing deterioration. The value of such an approach is that the status of the building will be recorded and this can be passed to subsequent owners, in order to promote good practice.
The first workshop will include a site visit, enabling participants to experience a range of problems that listed buildings present, and the nature of the remedial work undertaken.