The Recombooberation of Knock Old Castle
We were so excited and intrigued by ‘Knock Old Castle’, and we know you have been too. The reaction to this amazing castle on Facebook has been incredible!
I met Bruce Walker, the owner, when I went to visit the castle last year, and his passion for the castle, and his eccentric personality made me smile so much. He uses the term ‘recombooberation’ instead of reconstruction, he got gargoyles sculpted to his family pets and he even got a sauna built into the top turret! Because you have all shown so much interest we asked the Project Manager of the recombooberation, Andrew Rankin, to come and write a blog for us! We are going to do this in a couple of posts, just to emphasize the greatness of this project. Enjoy…
A Project Manager’s Story – Part 1
ARC Management first started working for Bruce Walker on new Knock Castle in 2004 on various projects to restore and renovate the house. This included complete re-roofing, re-wiring, specialist masonry wall repairs and restoration, the amalgamation of servant’s quarters and back kitchen areas into a family kitchen and then works within the grounds to install a pond, tennis court, cricket nets, Ha Ha, a pole barn and garage.
While we carried out these projects Bruce and I made many a sojourn down to the old ruin and mused about how fantastic is would be to restore it one day. A dream project and one that I thought was just that, a dream……
In the spring of 2011 we were just completing the works within the grounds and Bruce and I were having our usual briefing when he announced that he intended to start the process of the renovation of the ruined castle and would I take on the project management!
After many design meetings with our chosen Architects ARP Lorimer and the Structural Engineers ATK Partnership we applied for Planning permission, Listed Building Consent and Building Warrant and these were duly awarded. ARC Management then put together a list of specialists, craftsmen and artisans in all trades required and they were asked to tender separately for each aspect of the works. The plan being that there would be no “Main Contractor” and that ARC Management would coordinate, plan, programme, supervise and control of all the work required.
Quotes were sought from a defined team of specialist trades and contractors known to us from previous projects and after negotiation we chose Fleming Masonry Contractors to carry out the specialist stone masonry and joinery works for the entire project.
We broke ground in May 2012. Trees and vegetation were removed and Stephen Blair was contracted to drive in the new access road to allow plant and machinery access to the site. Rathmell Archaeology were on site throughout to record anything of Archaeological interest unearthed throughout the excavation works and all opening up around the existing building.
Scaffolding was bought for the project and erected throughout by George Haddow scaffolding to allow the long process of 100% repointing externally and internally and the stabilisation and renewal of missing or damaged stonework.
After consulting the British Geological Survey, it was decided that any new stone used for repair or replacement had to be sourced from St. Bees Quarry, Cumbria. This was the closest match to the original building masonry. In reality though the stone would have come from a local quarry, long since closed.
The original mortar was sampled by the Scottish Lime Centre and a specification for lime mortar was given for the mix to be used in the required pointing.
With the information to hand Flemings team began the process of repointing, under the watchful eye of William Fleming and Les Dean. Mark Campbell and his team of masons set about raking out and repointing, carving of new masonry, repair and replacement of missing masonry. As you look around the castle you may see new stone against old but the match is so good you may have to look quite hard to see it. You might see it around the top of the main spiral staircase or a cill of a window or the sides of a doorway, alongside the original masonry.
To be continued……….
We are sorry to stop you there, but promise part 2 will be coming soon. If you are interested to read the blog we did about Knock Old Castle back in February you can find it here . We show you what it looks like now and it talks a bit about the history and interior decoration. But you may want to keep that surprise for when we have made it through the recombooberation posts! Keep you eyes peeled for the next one.