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Friday, 29 November 2019

Staircase Under Way

Recent posts have waxed eloquent about the galvanised steel external staircase.   Today we had a second visit from staircase makers John Robb and his son Shane to take precise measurements on site and to brief Hopleys on where the concrete foundations need to be.  These guys do not hang around either.   The foundations will be cast on Monday and the actual tread-plate stairs will be bent today!

The three-landing dog-leg staircase will have a total of 17 steps, each 185.29mm deep.   The middle flight will follow the exact line of the existing stone retaining wall seen in the picture below, which is at a slight angle to the tower and to the extension.  This will look a great deal neater and made-to-measure for the site.   Which it is, of course.

 Above, Shane (left) and John make sense of the unusual site.

Below, John commits measurements to paper on one of the big rocks.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Architecture the Railways Built

Can't say too much just yet but this upcoming series on Yesterday Channel features a certain water tower.   Early in the New Year.


Super New Mapping Tool

Just discovered this amazing mapping tool from the National Library of Scotland:

It enables you to search the maps of any location in various formats and dates.   The link should take you to the Ordnance Survey map of the area around Settle Station of 1910, including the water tower.

It has all sorts of facilities to enable such tricks as measuring any area of land.  For interest, our plot is 1,112.676 sq m or 11,976.74 sq ft.  So  now we know.

When we bought the place Neil Wright's estate agent details showed the area as approximately 1/4 of an acre.  I asked Neil how he calculated that and he said he had guessed it.   Not a bad guess either - it works out at 0.27493112947658 of an acre.

click to enlarge

Monday, 25 November 2019

Signed Off by The Neck Surgeon

Pat and I went again to the Royal Preston Hospital for a periodic neck x-ray and to see my brilliant neurosurgeon Mr Ansar.   To my surprise and delight Mr Ansar studied the x-ray and pronounced himself very pleased indeed at my recovery.

He said that I had suffered a particularly serious broken neck and it had mended exceptionally well on the evidence of that day's x-ray:

So much so, he signed me off!  Didn't need to see me again "But don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any trouble with it at all".

What an incredibly neat job he had done.   Titanium screws can be seen in vertebrae C3 and C4.  They secure titanium plates which reach up to the skull where they locate onto titanium hooks.   During the past 18 months bone has re-grown around the metal, in effect fusing C1 with C3 and C4, bridging the gap where C2 was.

Below is a nasty reminder of how my neck was on a CT  scan before Mr Ansar did his delicate, risky and superb job.

What can one possibly say to somebody who has undoubtedly saved ones life and limbs?   Mr Ansar is an exceptionally modest, almost self effacing man who is easily embarrassed by the profuse thanks that I and so many of his patients must give him.

Nonetheless, both Pat and I came away with the strong impression that Mr Ansar was quietly and modestly chuffed to bits with this piece of work.  He even smiled.  My attempt at adequate thanks was simply met with "It's my job".

Mr Ansar, Thank You.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Staircase Ordered

After a great deal of thought and deliberation we have decided on the style and type of staircase.   There have been so many often conflicting aspects to this.  It is outdoors and galvanised steel was always going to be the material.   A single straight flight of stairs was the original plan but the site did not permit this if it was not to be unduly steep.  Planning and Building Control requirements conflicted particularly on the nature, spacing and orientation of railings.

Was it to be a fire escape or a n access staircase?  Different rules apply.

Should it match the existing front stairway to the tower?   Would that imply that the extension was an original part of the tower?   Could we have round railings as a hand rail?  That would please me, for one but it would differ from existing external stairs.

We were helped a great deal by our Building Inspector Bob Morris who delved deep into regulations for us and was helped by the fact that the top main flight would or could almost follow the line of the embankment so would be at 'ground' level or within 600mm of it.

Anyway, we found two seemingly good suppliers - one in Wolverhampton, the other in Keighley.   There was little in it price-wise but carriage from Wolverhampton was a deciding factor.   The Keighley made stairs would be delivered free.

Anyway, here is the eventual design:

Because of the complicated site, there must in our case be two intermediate landings and two 90 degree turns plus a 3.4m long top landing - quite a staircase therefore.  The picture is of a staircase at Thornton (Bradford) village hall, made by our Keighley firm and this is the style chosen.   It will be a prominent feature of the site and the middle flight of steps will have as a backdrop the splendid dry stone wall so recently built.   Topsoil will be right alongside the top flight to keep us within the spirit and the letter of Building Regs.  The steps and treads will have drain holes or be on a slight slope to prevent water from accumulating and the risk of ice in winter.  Quite by chance Building Inspector Bob Morris oversaw this very staircase when he worked in Bradford before escaping to Craven District.

Here it was under construction:

To avoid the need for craning it will come as a kit of parts to be assembled on site.  Next job is to build concrete foundations for its supports.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Sunshine and Pneumatics

The rain keeps raining and still we are windowless.  Happily though the roof does not leak,  BUT as mentioned earlier we had an unknown quantity of water sealed for ever below the roof which simply had to be drained and dried out.   In this endeavour we were on our own apparently - self-builders y'see.  Beresfords Roofers and Hopleys Builders were not for taking responsibility.

Enquiries with Aire Valley Glass today revealed that the windows were not finished - indeed they had not yet been started.  Waiting for needed window sections.

Being a resourceful realist I had cut circular holes in the under-layer of the roof to ventilate the space above and for the past fortnight of so I have been blowing warm air into them half-a-day at a time at each location.   This has certainly dried things out where there have been air gaps for circulation but where the insulation has been packed tight was still a worry.  The only answer was to force in air under pressure so that it could only permeate the nearby roof parts, to emerge from nearby vacant round holes.  Today the system had been tried out - and it seems to work:

click to enlarge and to marvel

Two big vacs. filters removed and on 'blow' are really shifting trapped wind, as it were with the exhausts detectable two or three rafter widths away.

The lack of windows at this stage actually helps.

And the sun is shining in, which lifts the spirits and shows that there will be plenty of natural daylight in the place without the need for roof lights.

The picture above is of bedroom #1 looking south.

Below is the kitchen area, looking north through the walls of other rooms:

 The lounge, as will be:

 and the same room looking from the other direction inside the existing annex landing through the big window:

Note the round holes in some of the ceiling rafters looking a bit like spotlights.   These await the ducts of the heat-recovery ventilation system, already installed below the floor and ducting due for delivery on Thursday.   Buoyed up by my efforts at drying out the roof space I am fitting this myself.   Managing air flow below the roof must be a bit of a doddle by comparison shouldn't it?

Oh, in case you were wondering, this is how the air hoses fix to the ceiling.  Not elegant but it works.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Train Crash at Leeds

A most unfortunate woops-a-daisy on the approach to the Leeds Neville Hill railway works when a brand spanking new Azuma train collided end-on with a soon-to-be retired High Speed Train at slow speed.  The Azuma suffered worst with several carriages derailed.  Both trains were empty and mercifully, no injuries.

LNER described it on Facebook as an 'operational incident' in masterly understatement.

One result for the S&C was the attempted deployment of a class 142 - the dreaded Pacer train.  The driver reportedly refused to take it over the roof of England at Skipton.   Presumably a number of our regular Class 158 Sprinters found themselves marooned in Neville Hill.

In case you were wondering how they move a damaged train like this whose wheels have become derailed, here is a video of the damaged Azuma passing through Leeds station on 24 November at 6 mph with damaged wheels on wheelskates.  It is en route from Neville Hill to Doncaster for repair - a journey of six hours!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Citadel and Sheep

This weekend we witnessed the amazing spectacle of a double-headed (two engines) steam train charging through Settle with The Citadel train - a re-creation of the run of the 'last' steam train in Britain in 1968 from Manchester to Carlisle and return, headed by two Black 5s.

Forty years on it happened again, defiantly showing that steam is not dead.   Here is the train passing Arcow Quarry, now rail re-connected.

What  intrigued me was the reaction of the sheep in the fields - fleeing for their lives from the fire breathing  steam monsters.  They would not have batted an eyelid once of course so commonplace the sound.

All was peace in The dales until 2001 when foot-and-mouth disease broke out in sheep and cattle.  Settle was particularly affected.   We moved to Settle just after that national crisis.  Our new home The Folly had been used for emergency accommodation for vets  brought in to diagnose and deal with the situation.  News bulletins were dominated with images of vast funeral pyres for infected animals - disastrous politics and doubtful treatment.

How joyful it is is to see sheep flourishing in The Dales today, even if frightened by steam trains.

Both were once threatened with extinction.

Restoration Man Drops By Again

Mid afternoon on a Sunday and the front door goes bing-bong.  Two bedraggled and muddy booted blokes stood on the outside landing.  One, Restoration Man George Clarke and the other his cameraman Chris on a walking tour around the Dales with an hour to kill before catching the northbound train.

What a delightful surprise.   They had walked from Skipton, via Malham and were in need of a cuppa and a warm - and to see the new extension of course.

George gave his blessing to the extension too.  When our first planning application was about to bite the dust George had studied the plans to see if  they could be made more likely to be accepted, pointing to then wasted space towards the north of the site and between the then proposed layout and the tower.  He was therefore interested in how things had worked out and was kind enough to pronounce that it was indeed an Amazing Space.

He was very concerned though to see and hear fans blowing warm air into the space between the rafters and the now completed roof because of the wetness above.  He agreed that it must be remedied, but by the roofing contractors not us,  Watch this / that space!

Cameraman Chris insisted on taking the picture - up on the roof but all of us squinting into strong autumn sunshine.

On entering, GC told Chris the cameraman 'hey look, those are the George Stairs'.  On cue, I explained to Chris (new to this project) "They're useless but very lovely".

It really is most reassuring that George is so obviously proud of this project.   He follows this Blog so be assured George you and yours are very welcome to stay in the new extension when (quite soon) it is finished.  The Yorkshire Dales and the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle line beckon.

Two more pictures taken by cameraman Chris.  The one below is especially well composed.  The Settle Down bench with the Settle sign above it is a favourite for visitor photographs:

 Just look at those boots.

George was giving the old Twitter some welly during his train ride to Carlisle too:

The Tweets prompted some wonderful and heartening responses about the Water Tower - and about Yorkshire.   One I particularly liked was that God made Lancashire then decided he* could do even better and made Yorkshire.

* perhaps that should be she?

Ready for the Topsoil and Landscaping Completed

The horribly steep embankment has been a worry.  It was too steep to garden before we started and is steeper now.

In consultation with Building Control we have constructed two massive stone walls and have now sunk three more of less horizontal wooden platforms on the bank so that topsoil has somewhere to sit securely while roots are establishing themselves.

a poor photograph but you get the idea.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Bird's Eye View

Here is a drone picture taken from somewhere above nearby Settle Primary School showing the area around Settle Station - including our Water Tower.   Makes a change from pictures of mud eh?

And for good measure this is one pointing the other way, from inside Settle signal box:

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Those Walls

Despite the appalling rain the second of the two dry stone walls is finished.   The muddy conditions are well illustrated in this view from above from what will be the lounge window:

And from below:

Absolute respect for the skill and artistry involved in achieving a stunning result.

A Dedicated Mudlark and-a-half

Today it is raining - heavily.   It started around 2am and has not stopped since.

Therefore, the walling stones and the area around the emerging wall is soaked and to call it muddy is to understate it.   I quite expected not to see dry-stone-waller Simon Morphet, so hostile are the working conditions.   To my astonishment he arrived and got stuck back in to his work.

With the fullest admiration of his skill and determination I asked him if I might take a photograph for the Blog:

click to enlarge!

That is what I call dedication.

Besides the outside work proceeding apace, today saw the start of the first-fix plumbing for the bathroom and kitchen.  As with Steve Dinsdale the electrician our plumber John Murfin and his assistant Matt have been able to break off from a hectic schedule of other work purely by chance when another job had become delayed between first and second fix.

John Murfin's father was the former owner of the water tower, from whom we bought it.  The water tower had therefore featured large in John's childhood adventures and memories so he is happy to be involved of course.

Not only that, we took delivery today of the heat-recovery-ventilation equipment for the extension.   Sales Director of Air Distribution Management Ltd (ADM), who supplied the main tower's HRV system, happened to have an appointment in Morecambe today from their HQs at Bingley and Settle is just about en route . . .   Our original HRV system still features on ADM's website:

Perhaps our extension's separate but near identical system might also feature one day?

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Dry Stone Wall With a Champion's Touch

Following on from the creation of the magnificent dry stone wall of giant boulders with the big digger we were left with a massive pile of smaller but nonetheless substantial stones to turn into a rockery or, even better, create a retaining dry-stone-wall to secure the embankment - and to look good.

The one thing this part of Yorkshire is famous for is its magnificent dry stone walls.   Many date back centuries and there they stay to this day, skilfully made in the first place.   Roadside walls though are vulnerable to impact damage so need rebuilding.  Just occasionally new ones are still made - as here.

One of the fascinating attractions of country shows around here are the dry stone walling competitions which made me wonder if our d.s.w. man Simon Morphet of High Bentham took part in them - and yes, he does.  Successfully too!  Here is Simon in action at this year's  Kilnsey Show in the summer sunshine:

Simon is the big chap with black hair in the centre of the picture.   He came second on that occasion and I congratulated him.   "Came First at Penrith" he replied.

Dry stone wallers spend a good deal of time using their eyes and brains rather than their brawn.  'You only pick up a stone once' is their motto.

Here's the steep embankment at the start of the job:

In the foreground is our heavy lift winch-truck which may come in handy.   Watching Simon so far I doubt it will be needed though.  Here he is playing with one of those huge and heavy stones at lunchtime:
Still quite a pile of stones to go at.   And this is how the wall is shaping up:

When finished it will be a couple of courses higher and will extend leftwards towards what will be the external stairs.  Besides being decorative it, like the wall of larger stones to the right is deliberately tilted inward towards the embankment to provide added stability.

Monday, 4 November 2019

First Electrical Fix Finished

Here is proof - the 14 way consumer unit in the extension is live and connected only to the two double power sockets for now so that we have power.

My word we were lucky to be able to get Settle electrician Steve Dinsdale at short notice who had a rare few days availability between jobs.   An amazingly neat and thorough job he has done too.   We had devised a wiring plan but with all his experience he has been able to see to things we had forgotten about.  Best of all he has been able to exploit the ease of wiring opportunities inherent in this type of building without going way over the top with 'future-proofing'.   The future seems to involve far fewer wires, not more!

Meanwhile, the inside of the building appears to be drying out nicely from its soaking with October rains.  The worry though is that water remains trapped within the ceiling / roof space with no means of escape.  I have therefore invested in moisture and humidity meters and an endoscope camera to do a though check on things

Architect Stuart Green came by at the weekend to inspect the roof and to discuss the design of the external metal staircase.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Christmas Comes Early for our Darling Daughter

Darling daughter Lorna stayed with us last weekend and the C word was mentioned - Christmas.  What to get?  Surprising answer was a running cap for the half-Marathon girl.  Not just any old running cap either - one that shines in the dark.  Yes, really and here it is:

Looks like any other baseball type cap but in the light of car headlights, or a camera flash - wow:

We decided that the obvious safety factor dictated that a special early delivery was in order.