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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Classic fencing

By chance, Settle's Wonder of Wood happened to have a huge quantity of redwood spare, of just the right size for the palings so fencer Les Brewer, seen here creosoting, stepped in and bought it. Creosote is now back on the agenda after years in the 'Elf an' Safety wilderness. Les uses a mixture of creosote and a secret Yorkshire Dales magic ingredient.

This shot shows the gentle sweep of the fence as it curves to follow the station drive. If you press your nose to the screen you can smell the creosote. There were constant interruptions from passers-by taking in the nostalgic vapours.

Here we see the Jeff Wilson field gates and the Les Brewer fence, both built to Midland Railway drawings. This must be as good as these things get. Note the site supervisor, Bobby, looking on.

This is sometimes the scourge of building sites - the radio. Not so here. Kilburn and Johnson are Classic FM builders. Smooth classics and creosote on a summer's day. What bliss.
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Friday, 26 August 2011

Sewer side

Fresh back from his holiday in Majorca builder Carl Johnson is back down to earth with a bump and is seen here part way down the main sewer on The Sidings - where mobile telephones clearly work! He is speaking to a colleage at the business end of the pipe. Somebody has got to do it!
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Thursday, 25 August 2011

The tank, gas supply and fencing

After an enormous hole had been dug with Whitelock's 13 tonne digger, the 1000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank was gently lowered in under the careful supervision of builders Gav, Scott and Bob. Yes, Bob the Builder.

Meanwhile Settle Fencing - Les Brewer and dog Bobby - plant one of a huge number of fence posts.

Day four of the gas supply operation has Carillion filling in the trenches after the supply has been connected. Access to Settle station was tight but the lads worked quickly to minimise disruption.

These are the first of five wooden gates that will give access to the grounds. This pair of field gates will open onto a new access gateway onto the station drive. They have been beautifully made to Midland Railway designs by local gate maker Jeff Wilson. They have been much admired, and photographed today. The dowelled joints are held together with oak pegs. Note the six bars, rather than the more usual five.

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Going down

The Deep. This is the newly excavated hole for the rainwater harvesting tank. Its depth can be judged by the height of six-foot Scott Johnson standing in front of the digger. Tomorrow we shall 'plant' the tank.

Whilst the 13 tonne digger was here we decided to open up the driveway onto the station approach road. All would have been well with that idea until we did a precautionary CAT scan and detected what sounded like a power supply, pretty near the surface of the grassy bank. By coincidence Electricity Northwest were due to connect the towers new power supply today. They repeated the CAT scan and confirmed our findings. The power supply to Settle Station does not go up the station drive as is shown on the official plans (below). It runs along the line of our temporary red plastic fence. The power cable is higher than the station drive so our gateway plans are on hold until the cable can be lowered and properly protected.

Cartographical inexactitude.   The red line of Settle Station's power cable is shown as being under the tarmac of the station drive.   But it isn't.
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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Curtain walls and stairs are in

The past three days have been hectic as the screen walls and stairs have been fitted, under the spotlight of the television cameras. The steelworks, windows and stairs have been manufactured off site by Commercial Systems International (CSi) in Hull. Much communication between Hull and Settle has paid off as everything has fitted perfectly. When the huge steel staircase was swung in behind the steel frame in the main doorway opening there was a cry of "One millimeter out!" Altogether a remarkable achievement.

CSi are more used to commercial buildings than small scale restorations like this one. That said they have done the odd Martello Tower and the living pods on top of Lister's Mill in Bradford. Airports rather than water towers are more their thing. Even so, the skill and enthusiasm for this relatively small project have been remarkable - and it is now being rewarded.    Picture 1 shows the south screen wall of the main tower - unglazed for now and ply boarded.

Picture 2 shows the glasss wall to the north end of the annex - partly glazed. The double window toward the top is the kitchen, with floor to ceiling glass.

(Note to Planning Officers who I know follow this Blog - the glazing sections are protected by plastic film so the colours are not necessarily the final ones)

Picture 3 shows the main staircase steels from inside the building. This is the one that had to be a perfect fit as it spans between existing steel beams and the steel of the entrance wall. The grooves alongside the stairs will have heavy glass balustrades. The stair treads and the landing will be inset with stone.   The short flight of stairs down to the ground floor were George Clarke's idea.   George had the privilege of being the first to climb them.

CSi architect Maarten Kleinhout being filmed in the 'Corporate Headquarters Caravan' explaining what is happening. Maarten's personal commitment to this project has been crucial. His boss, architect Stuart Green, had the original vision,  but Maarten and his team are now 'making it happen'.

At various stages yesterday I do believe I saw huge and heavy pieces of glass being lifted by architects Stuart Green and Maarten Kleinhout and TV presenter / architect George Clarke.   Meanwhile the cameras were rolling in case they dropped it!   Happily for us, they didn't but it would have made good television if they had.
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Friday, 19 August 2011

Stairs and steel

Merlo the telehoist has been in action again as the heavy steel staircase and screen walls are delivered.

Here are some tense moments as tons of steel are carefully and expertly manouvered into the tower by manufacturers CSi of Hull.

The biggest lift by far was the steel frame for the southern screen wall. Besides supporting the window frames the landings and staircases will be bolted to the transverse steel beam.
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Wired for sound, with warm hands

Filming during the past couple of days has involved being wired for sound, a somewhat undignified process which involves sticking a tiny microphone to bits of people that are normally covered by clothing. A bit tricky when the person being wired is wearing a top like Pat's. Here the sound man tackles the problem with determination and warm hands. A coach load of ladies disembarking nearby appeared intrigued.
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Tuesday, 16 August 2011


After much digging and with the help of a metal detector we have found the cast iron pipe that took the water from the tower to the water cranes on the platforms. Carl's wellies give an idea of its size. It was 4 feet below the base of the tower, as predicted.

This pipe will carry the rainwater from the tank into the rainwater harvesting tank nearby.

Now it's over to plumber Les Hobson to work out how we tap into this monster.

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Monday, 15 August 2011

Evening Sunshine and drains

This picture shows evening sunshine flooding into what will be the living room, with its newly screeded floor.

Today, apprentice Tim gets down to it laying the drains, which passed muster by Building Inspector Mike Nuttall.   Mike expressed his astonishment at how well and how quickly the build was progressing.

We also had a visit from Gav all the way from Hull, who will be the supremo for the big lift of the staircase and the curtain wall steels later in the week. He was able to familiarise himself with Merlo the tele-hoist and to meet Brian at Settle Coal who will be operating the really big crane when, and if, the roof room goes in (still subject to planning permission).

Also visiting today were nephew David and his fiancee Barbara - followers of this Blog and great fans of the project.

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Meet Unimog

One of the joys of being in a rural area is the availability of some serious machinery and people's willingness to adapt to local needs. Below is a Mercedes Unimog - an impressive piece of kit with power take-offs all over the place which spends much of its time emptying cess pits. Today, Sunday, it delivered a 3.5 tonne digger to the water tower so that drains can be dug from tomorrow onwards.

Unimog belongs to Chris Armstrong of Horton in Ribblesdale.   Move your cursor over the above picture and click on the black rectangle below and to the right of the Mercedes badge a couple of times for a bit of cess pit emptier's philosophy on life.

Here is Chris about to unload the digger.

And here is a side view of Unimog - kitted out for shovelling s--t, as it were. You need a sense of humour to do that sort of job.   I know that Chris looks at this Blog. His sense of humour extends to his business card which proclaims "You dump it, we pump it".  

Friday, 12 August 2011

First floor screeded

This is the north end of the first floor receiving 60mm of screed on top of the underfloor heating pipes. The screed, which extends into the first floor annex too, has taken five men working hard all day - two applying the screed and three feeding them with screed via heavy buckets brought up a ladder.

Looking the other way, here are heating pipes awaiting covering. The plywood board covers the lift shaft.

At the end of the day this is the view northwards from the lift shaft. The camera is resting on the screed and shows the perfect level achieved by Richard and Carl. They were helped by a spinning laser beam but that cannot detract from their painstaking application of the screed, using spirit levels and double checking with the laser beam at frequent intervals.

This general view of the project shows the two now completed floors through the massive hole in the south wall. The completed annex is just seen to the right. All the first fixes are now complete, leaving completion of the drains and services and plastering of the walls the main building jobs still to do.

It is astounding what has been achieved in just two months and four days.
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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Down the big pipe - spooky pictures

This is the view from the tank looking down the massive water outflow pipe - the pipe that once led to the water cranes on the platforms of Settle Station.

This pipe will carry the rain water from the roof of the tower and we need to connect it to the rainwater harvesting tank. We needed to know how deep the pipe is and its direction of exit from below the water tower's foundations.

Both questions have been answered today by the simple means of a) dropping a weighted line down and measuring its length - 8,960 mm and b) shining a stong light down and taking photographs.   The first rather surreal picture shows water at the bottom of the pipe reflecting the camera's flash.

This second rather indistinct image tells us which way the pipe turns at its base - southwards, towards the bottom of the picture is the answer.

The stronger reflection to the top of the picture is from water sitting on the slightly projecting gate valve, 6.3 meters below the camera. Fortunately the gate valve, which is rusted solid at present, is in the open position so the pipe will be able to take all the rainwater that is ever likely to drain from the tank.
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Friday, 5 August 2011


Duncan the cameraman has his hands full. He has to travel by train to London with all this lot - hence the use of Settle Station's luggage trolley. Note the vans in Burnley colours.

Builders Bum is a well known occupational requirement but Cameraman's Bum is a new one. Camera men wear Calvin Klein though.
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Ground floor screeded

I think this is Richard (The Stig) Kilburn showing his best side whilst expertly screeding the ground floor. The heating pipes are being covered with 60mm of a very dry mix, with glass fibres blended into it. You can vote via the comments facility at the bottom (sorry) of the page.

Picks and shovels are still the best thing when drainange trenches are needed in boulder clay.

Carl Johnson also spent the day on his knees laying the screed, though his knees suffered somewhat.
He supports Burnley FC by the way as his socks firmly declare - as does the colour scheme of the Kilburn and Johnson vans.

Here is the 4,500L (1000 gallon) rainwater harvesting tank. It really is a big beast but it gives us a clue about the capacity of the water tower's tank - which held the water equivalent of 43 of these.
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