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 .
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.
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.
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.