Essential Repair Work To Listed Maltings In Ely
Date of Article
Jan 15 2009

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Property expertise and workmanship have come together on a project to replace the roof on one of Ely’s landmark, riverside buildings which dates back to 1868.

Last spring (2008), the Building Consultancy Division of Carter Jonas and building contractor Benchmark Contracts of Isleham were appointed by East Cambridgeshire District Council to project manage and carry out essential repair work to The Maltings in Ely.

Now, through the efforts and skills of locally-based craftsman, the scaffolding has come down to reveal a new roof and tower which, in conservation terms, remains as authentic as possible, to the original of this Grade II listed building.

The existing slate roof covering of The Maltings had begun to deteriorate and the complex arrangement of some parts of the roof meant that water had begun to affect parts of its timber frame support.

Given the building’s listed status, preparatory work was carried out in conjunction with the District Council’s conservation officer to agree a new roof covering which was in keeping with the appearance of the building.

Main contractor Benchmark Contracts undertook the re-roofing which specified hand-crafted green and blue Welsh slates which were sourced from a family-run quarry in North Wales.

Many of the slates had to be individually and painstakingly shaped by Benchmark’s expert roofers to fit its dedicated place and reinstate the original pattern of slates on the roof which had been lost over the years by small-scale repair work and maintenance.

The roofing process included fashioning shapes and contrasting patterns with the slates, where appropriate, in particular on the four slopes of the steep tower, to ensure the new roof remained true to the original design and the conservation specification.

In fulfilling the project in as authentic a way as possible, East Cambridgeshire District Council commissioned blacksmith Mike Overall – who works from a studio in Cottenham – to strike a weather vane in the style of a malt shovel for the tower because research had revealed that a previous weather vane had just such a quirky design in tribute to the building’s original function as a working maltings.

Other highlights of the project included installing a new cupola to crown  the tower, replacing twelve dorma windows situated on the main roof, replacing old drainpipes on the roof without compromising the character of the building and also, following an assessment by an expert ornithologist, providing nest boxes for birds.

David Sparrow, senior building surveyor at Carter Jonas in Cambridge, who managed the project, said: "It was important to make sure that any repair or replacement work on the structure and fabric of a building of such historical importance and location was carried out safely and in sympathy with the original building in terms of materials and quality of workmanship.

"What was especially pleasing was that we were able to source such quality workmanship locally and this all adds to the authenticity of the project."

Benchmark Contracts were pleased to be part of such an important project too.

Director, Mark Turner said: "We worked closely with East Cambridgeshire District Council and Carter Jonas to ensure that each and every detail of the roof and its setting was as authentic as possible.

"The end result at The Maltings is a testament to the dedication of the team we employed to carry out the work and to the project planning and design undertaking by Carter Jonas."