Oct 312013

Karen Murray, HCC head of strategic and business development, and Cllr Keith Chapman receiving a cheque for the Colt Hill barn from Society chairman Philip Riley in November 2012

Last year, the Society was given the opportunity by Hampshire County Council, the previous owners of the Colt Hill barn, to purchase the building and its adjacent land. After an inordinately lengthy legal process, we took ownership in November 2012. The John Pinkerton II is moored next to the barn (along with the old John Pinkerton, which is up for sale).

The barn has provided a convenient base for the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises operation, and it had been previously shared with the BCA for storage of stock for the bar and other Society paraphernalia.  However, continued access to the Canal frontage at the barn was key for JPCC, because to lose this secure mooring location would have had serious consequences for the future of the operation. Luckily, having been allowed to make this acquisition, the problem did not arise. The Society owns the end of the building nearest the Canal, while the other end is privately owned. We also own the land in front of the barn and the entire frontage across the Waterwitch pub garden, to a distance of about 3m from the water’s edge.

North-west cornerThe barn is believed to be roughly contemporary with the construction of the Canal (ie late 18th Century), and to be once a cheese store.  HCC had undertaken some significant structural repairs after it took ownership in the early 1990’s, but not much had taken place since. The Society commissioned a condition survey of the building, which concluded that the barn was in generally sound condition,  but it identified several areas requiring attention:

– overgrowth of vegetation (including tree growth) over the roof, and in particular the north-western corner of the building (that is, to the right of the barn entrance), which had damaged the wall,  roof structure and tiles (left)

– woodworm infestation in the internal timber frame

Working on north west corner– dampness in the brick wall that is adjacent to the pub land (which supports an embankment of earth at least 1m high)

– rot in the timberwork and cracks in brickwork at the party wall end

The Society decided to take on the structural and roof refurbishment, and engaged contractors to undertake the party wall repairs (under a party wall agreement), and the woodworm treatment.

DefrassingIt was clear to us that a fair bit of work would be required to reconstruct the corner of the barn to the right of the entrance (right). In the end, we had to remove a couple of trees, rebuild the barn brickwork and that of the adjacent wall, replace sections of the rotten roof ‘A’ frame timber (using lock balance beam oak), strengthen both sides with steel brackets, and replace many roof tiles (below right). Throughout, we used materials that were in keeping with the character of the building, including lime mortar, period bricks and tiles, and matching timber. Retiling

The workparty also spent many hours preparing the roof timbers for woodworm treatment (called “defrassing”, or otherwise known as getting smothered with dust and cobwebs – left).

All that work has now been done. The front right hand corner of the barn has been rebuilt, beams sections replaced and the frame strengthened. The party wall is now repaired, thanks to Charles Godfrey of Cedarwood Carpentry (though it seems we have some rising damp needing attention), and the woodworm has been treated – we would like to say a special thankyou to Peter Reay of Advanced Preservations Ltd who, in charging us just £5, effectively donated his services for nothing.

Not much can be done about damp along the pub garden wall, although a trench was dug outside so that some pointing of the brickwork could be undertaken. The work party has also installed two water-side power points for use by the trip boat. In addition, Jeff Hill has built and installed a quite luxurious owl box above the door.

Barn nearly finishedSome work has still to be done. The inside of the barn is being reorganised to make better use of space, and cupboards and shelving are being built. The ground outside the barn needs a tidy up, and the last big job to be undertaken is to remove an ash tree stump next to the water and extend the piled mooring across part of the pub garden. We hope to complete this early in the New Year.