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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

First steels arrive

Every day seems to be a milestone as the building work shoots ahead. The first pieces of steel arrived on site today and no sooner had they landed they were being installed. The steels did not have far to come. They were expertly engineered by MD Lawson Engineering of nearby Ingleton. There is little that you cannot get in or near to Settle it seems.

The first picture looks a bit like an episode of Top Gear when in caravan crushing mode. The Settle Station Water Tower's international corporate headquarters caravan looks to be at risk but it is in the safe hands of the combined skills of (left to right) Kilburn and Johnson builders, Lawson the engineer and Whitelock's the heavy lifting men.
By good fortune Whitelocks were here today and the digger quickly redeployed from back-filling the retaining walls to lifting girders.

A tense moment as the very first bit of steel is manhandled into place across the opening in the side of the tower that will give access to the annex. Richard (The Stig) Kilburn (left) and Lucas his apprentice do the grunting whilst Carl Johnson expertly holds a string line aside, and looks suitably concerned.

From outside the annex the steelwork can be appreciated. The Stig is still to be unmasked but is in serious danger of it in this shot. He is standing on the three outer layers of the concrete reinforced retaining wall and tanking of the lower part of the annex. In front of him is an air gap which will be filled with insulation. The inner wall to the right of the picture is the wall of the downstairs WC and shower room, now almost to ceiling height. The big girder is part of the stairway structure. Its far end is bolted to the beam seen being fitted in the previous picture. The whole thing is millimeter perfect.
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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Amazing images

This picture, courtesy of Dr WR (Bill) Mitchell shows Settle station from the south west around 1890 - not long after the line opened therefore. The water tower is clearly seen. The signal box, to the right by the goods shed was replaced in 1892 with the present structure. Vegetation is only just becoming established on the embankments of the newly built railway.

Zooming in a bit on the water tower we can just see its panels in their then new coats of paint. The low building between the tower and the station was the weigh office for the goods yard. On the platform ramp in front of the weigh office is the up water crane, served by water from the tower.

Less glorious times.   A 1984 poster announcing the closure of the Settle-Carlisle railway line. Happily the public response was overwhelming. The line was saved and the rest is history.   The station yard, including the water tower, the magnificent stone goods shed, even the railway lines were sold off for just £5,000 to create The Sidings industrial estate.   The water tower survived.   The goods shed did not.
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Friday, 24 June 2011

Progress - but more form filling

This is the view inside the tank in the area where the lift shaft and stairs will emerge. The four pointed star thingys mark the positions of 5mm drain holes, painstakingly drilled into the 1" thick cast iron by Peter Bennett. Just for now the holes have been plugged with 5mm golf tees - quite the best use for them in my book. These holes mean that on any sunny day we can clean and paint the base plates before they are buried when insulation and roofing materials cover them over. Note the lime scale on the tank sides, soon to be removed.

The beginings of the annex ground floor - now with a coat of bitumen as part of the damp proofing / tanking process. The white lines on the floor show where walls will go. In the foreground is the utility room, hence the pipes and ducts emerging from its floor.

The same area from the other end. One of the soil pipes in the foreground is for rainwater.

The rear of the southern wing retaining wall - soon to be backfilled, which will enable the banking to have a gentler slope to it. Note the reinforcing bars between the walls. Because this retaining wall has been moved forward, to lessen its height, we are required to submit a full planning application for it!!  Quite what we shall do if it is refused I don't know. Still, anything for a quiet and law abiding life. This wall and its equivalent on the far side of the annex will be faced with stone recovered from the tower - if we get planning permission . . . . . .
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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Tank base panels and Restoration Man

A very busy day today with a heavy session of filming for Restoration Man and much work in general. Settle blacksmith David Clements set about removing the nuts and bolts that were holding the tank base plates together. We need to remove four panels to make way for the lift shaft and stairway to the tank. This is a great shame and a monumental task. David was able to free off the very rusty nuts but the bolts were heavily corroded. In the end he set about removing them with oxy acetylene.

Meanwhile friend Peter Bennett has drilled nineteeen drain holes in tank base plates.

Restoration Man George Clarke was so impressed with the Trelawney needle gun that he could not be dragged away from it - like a kid with a new toy.   Here he is tackling outside panel number 72 out of 72.   Gordon the Gondola earned his spurs by supporting three people at once today.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Concrete and more concrete

Building Inspector Mike Nuttall (the one nearest the camera, with the clean shoes) was there bright and early to ensure the job could proceed today.

By mid morning concrete lorries were queueing up.

Yesterday's reinforcement cages are filling up.  The vertical bars indicate the location of the retaining walls and the back of the annex. Richard (The Stig) Kilburn still has his back to the camera but promises to reveal all when the TV people are here next Wednesday.

Kilburn and Johnson appreciate that it pays to advertise so have invested in two sign boards for the site.

Useful meetings today with representatives of Polyroof and Evo Lifts.

The annex should be receive its roof quite soon. The roof inside the tank is a bit unusual in that we are putting a roof over an existing exceedingly water tight roof.

The lift will be among the very last items to be fitted but it was important for us to have assurance at this stage that the holes in the floors through which the lift shaft will go fulfil the requirements. We think that on the ground floor the free standing lift shaft will be as unobtrusive as we can make it. On the very high first floor we hope that the lift will run in a glazed shaft - if we can afford that indulgence.
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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Reinforcement mesh and radon sump

Today saw the installation of reinforcement mesh on top of yesterday's concrete. The picture shows the southern end of the annex, with the retaining wing wall springing from it in the foreground. It had been hoped to pour the next load of concrete (12 cubic meters) on top of the reinforcement bars late this afternoon but the Building Inspector could not fit in a site visit to see for himself that the reinforcement was satisfactory. A great shame that will cost us a day.

Here are builders Carl and Richard (The Stig) - foreground, checking and re-checking the positioning of the reinforcements. I am determined to get a picture of Richard, a handsome brute, sometime.

Meanwhile, inside the tower trenches are being dug for pipelines etc. The pit in the foreground will be the radon sump - something the Victorian builders did not have to worry about.
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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Water tank drain pipe

This is a better shot of Richard Kilburn, this time tamping concrete.

We decided to remove the low wall and threshold stone steps at the main entrance in order to provide a more stable base for the curtain glass wall and entry staircase. In so doing we exposed the cast iron pipe that once took water from the tank when it was necessary to drain it. The pipe, sprayed blue here, was soon to be concreted in (below) but hopefully there will be room inside the building to preserve a stump of the vertical pipe. The stone wall will be rebuilt to the level of the screen wall's base.

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Footings go in

Regular viewers will have observed that our builders are called Kilburn and Johnson Ltd.
Carl Johnson has appeared a number of times on this Blog. Richard Kilburn has not. He is a man of mystery - a bit like The Stig. There are few photographs of him. Let us put that right. Here he is on the left, removing stonework below one of the windows to create a 45 degree slope to admit more light to the ground floor.

Following more excavation the footings for the retaining wall and the annex were dug today. The diggers dug and the Building Inspector inspected. One and a half lorry loads of concrete arrived late afternoon and the footings received their first filling.   Tomorrow the trenches will receive steel reinforcing mesh and more concrete.

This shot shows the enormity of the excavations and the wheelbarrow relay team taking the concrete from the lorry to the footing trenches.   It takes nerve, skill and strength to run with a wheelbarrow full of sloppy concrete.

Within the hour the trenches received 9 cubic meters of concrete. Trenches dug, inspected and concreted in one day. Impressive.
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Monday, 13 June 2011

Footings and holes in the walls

The tower has had a real onslaught of building work today with, at one stage eight men working hard on it.
At the back of the building excavators Chris and Tom are digging out the footings for the annex and retaining walls. Recent rain and my stone cleaning efforts had made the area very muddy. Digger driver Chris said the boulder clay into which he is currently digging is the hardest he has ever had to dig. Our admiration for the tower's original builders is all the greater.
This is one of six large holes being made inside the tower to take heavy steel beams across the width of the tower which will support the first floor. The first floor will go in before the ground floor, to avoid heavy lifting machinery damaging the ground floor.
One of the completed beam sockets. Note how the large stones inside the wall are mortared in. These would be loose in a less well built building.

The steels were ordered this morning and should be here later this week. Another thing ordered today is the lift - important to get this right as it passes through the floors and the tank base in an unforgivingly vertical shaft.
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Saturday, 11 June 2011

Cobblestones further revealed

Removal of the concrete ramp leading to the tower's southern entrance revealed more of the characterful cobblestones which seem to form a drainage channel leading to a large surface water drain at the south west corner of the tower. Now that the heavy digger and lorries have gone from the site we should be able to expose more of this (if there is more) without risk of damage. This pavement seems to be at about the right level to be incorporated into the site plan.
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A busy Saturday

Removal of the last bit of the ramp up to the threshold revealed the remains of a flight of massive stone steps and . . .

in a cavity below the right hand side of the steps is a large iron pipe whose position coincides with the now blanked off drain and valve in the tank above.

Whilst many lorry loads of spoil were being taken away I played with the industrial scale pressure washer on the lower parts of the exterior stone work. This is the north west corner. Contrast the clean stone with that further back.

Excavation of the big hole in which the annex will sit is complete. The footings will be dug, and maybe poured, on Monday.
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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Some lighter things

Digger driver Chris tucks in to his breakfast in the comfort of his cab.

This is the all day breakfast from Poppy's cafe in the middle of Settle. Just £3.

Meanwhile, dumper driver Tom tucks in to a bacon buttie.

Almost 20 feet tall by 4 feet wide this window opening has become a giant's doorway.
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