Case Study - Double Row, New Lanark

  • By Gedas Barodica
  • 25 Apr, 2017
Big thank you to the New Lanark Trust for supplying this historic Double Row picture.

The New Lanark Mill was founded in 1785 by David Dale, a Glasgow merchant. Double Row – was a designated row of tenement properties for the mill workers . The New Lanark original concept was significant in Britain as it was years ahead of its time in both social and working conditions.

The mills were closed in 1968, with the village falling into disuse. New Lanark Conservation Trust was formed in 1974 to bring the site back into use. In 2001 the village was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The tenements within Double Row, were in continuous occupation from the 1790s to the 1970s and the row is designated a Scheduled Monument, due to the historic interest of the site as an early example of social and employment reform in Britain. The remarkable survival of original artefacts and materials such as fireplaces, sinks, ‘set-in’ beds, wallpaper and linoleum is rare. This important restoration project is to ensure the survival of this A-listed building of international architectural and historical significance by restoring it as usable residential accommodation .

Richardson & Starling Preservation Works to Double Row

Double Row Tenement building, New Lanark

Due to the historic nature of the buildings Richardson & Starling were engaged early in the project to carry out building preservation surveys and specify sympathetic remedial repairs to seven tenement properties at Double row in New Lanark. The eighth property within this block has been retained as a functioning museum and could not be disturbed. The properties had been suffering from water penetration for some time and severe Wet Rot fungus (Coniophora puteana) was found to be affecting the floors and roof timbers. A heavy widespread infestation by the Common Furniture Beetle, (Anobium punctatum) was also found. The wet rot attacks were so significant to some floors the full floors were removed from the building. Sections of the lower floor flats were found to be soil retaining at the front elevation and gables.

In normal circumstances this would have been a straightforward job. However, in this instance, due to the restrictions which were placed on the client in terms of the historic elements of the buildings by Historic Scotland and the inability to use internal scaffold we had to devise a plan to carry out the repairs using alternative safe access methods to the roof.

Although significant internal areas required to be stripped due to the extent of the wet rot attack all efforts were made to conserve and retain as much of the roof structure as possible. Where internal fabric required to me removed all efforts were made to retain historic features for reuse.

Restriction due to the construction of the site meant that access scaffold could not be installed internally which caused significant working at height issues. Anyone falling through the rotten roof would have fallen more than 18 metres. 

Steel Man safe line work method in use

 If we were to attempt repairs externally we would have to stand on these roofs which were structurally unsound in places. To allow us to conserve and preserve as much of the existing roof structure as possible our health and safety department developed a safe method of working. We were advised by the principal contractor that the client would not allow us to erect scaffolding or crash decks to gain access to the roof timbers from the inside of the building due to logistic reasons.

Subsequently after developing a thorough risk assessment it was decided to carry out the repairs from the outside face of the roof, this was achieved by arranging specialist equipment and training for our operatives. This covered working at height, harnesses and a detailed rescue plan process.

A certified Steel Man safe line was installed to anchor bolts which were attached to both chimneys. This was then pull tested to ensure that it would carry the potential loads that could be imposed on the safety line during the rafter repairs.

  • Access to work area was only permitted to trained operatives and this was restricted by physical barriers
  • Two operatives accessed the unsafe roof carefully ensuring harnesses were in place and using a roof ladder to spread the weight on the roof
  • A third operative was also harnessed and attached to the safe man line. This operative was only to access the roof if the rescue plan had to be implemented.
  • Working from the roof ladder, the identified sections of defective sarking boards and structural roofing timbers were removed and repaired. Where possible timbers were treated in situ where minor fungal attack had occurred.

As the building was required to be maintained in a watertight condition, careful monitoring of weather forecasts was undertaken and only areas that could be made watertight at the end of each day were opened during the working day. Weather conditions were also relevant to the safe working conditions on the pitch of the roof.

Other areas of the building were treated as identified and a cavity drainage system was installed to waterproof the soil retaining walls where required.

Despite the additional health and safety issues and safe working procedures required our project was completed on time and budget. The Double row is now preserved for future generations to appreciate and enjoy this living heritage.

Richardson & Starling Blog

By Gedas Barodica 05 May, 2017
Richardson & Starling are celebrating winning the Property Care Association UK Contractor of the Year on Thursday evening at the Best Practice Awards held in Coventry. This adds to our success in winning the same award in 2016 .

There are more than 400 member companies in the PCA covering the UK and R&S came top after all member companies had been audited.

We also came top for the Project of the Year award for our contract at Double Row in New Lanark contracted by our Glasgow office and won the Training and Staff Development category.

Graham Duncan, Managing Director, said: “ We are proud to win these prestigious awards and I would like to thank all our staff who work hard to deliver a quality service.”

Richardson & Starling have been delivering Property Care surveys and repairs since 1935 and are a Veitchi Group company who recently celebrated 100 years in business .
By Gedas Barodica 25 Apr, 2017
Big thank you to the New Lanark Trust for supplying this historic Double Row picture.
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