Tucked away in the ancient oak woodland near Plympton...

lies the grand and historic house of Newnham Park.

Scaffolding now covers the entire building...

with a temporary cover in place over the extensive roof.

Looking down at the timber work on the dormer widows...

All being covered with new lead.

The alternate pitched and arched pediments over the dormer windows...

all renovated and repaired around the top level of the house.

All the old Delabole slates removed...

and replaced using a mix of the original and re-claimed Delabole.

Roll upon roll of lead is lifted to the vast roof, some 40 tonnes in all...

first laid out as sheets...

clamped into place...

and skilfully worked into shape.

Lead for the corners around the windows...

and as fitted sheets, folded and ready to be fitted...

around all the newly renovated dormer windows.

and the wooden cupola which is undergoing renovation work.

A completed section of the specialised 'rag slating'.

Each slate is cut to size with one hole at the top...

the holes are not for nails...

they are for the oak pegs.

Each slate has a peg fitted...

The laths attached to the roof timbers provide the means to 'hang' the slates...

Laths are numbered with the corresponding size of slate to be fitted.

Laid slates get a small amount of lime render...

the top, underside of the slate to be fixed also has render applied...

before fixing into place with the oak peg through the lath and the render setting to provide a solid and long lasting fix.

Chalk paint is used to prevent reaction between lead and the timber.

The result of skill and craftsmanship...

South Hams Roofing working closely with BroadOak Construction

 

Originally build circa 1718 Newnham Park remains tucked away in the ancient oak woodlands which lie between the city of Plymouth and The Dartmoor National Park. This house has been the family home for generations; a substantial property where time has taken its toll over the years on external render and the enormous roof structure. As a Grade II Listed Building all repair, renovation and replacement work has to be carried out to the highest levels of craftsmanship and quality – so what exactly does that mean?  

  • Traditional and specialist ‘Rag Slating.’
  • Oak riven laths, oak pegs and lime mortar.
  • 40 tonnes of new lead.
  • Enduring finish completed with pride!

 

This is a large project with a considerable amount of activity, but broadly speaking the work can be broken down into three key areas: firstly there is the major structural timber work of the roof itself where BroadOak Construction have identified the timbers that need to be removed and replaced. The second area is the very specialised slate work known as ‘rag slating’ with the third being the significant amount of lead work on the roof and dormer windows; all slate and lead work has been carried out in-house.

Rag slates and rag slating is specialised work which requires a high degree of teamwork, skill and time, but the result is beautiful to see and very long lasting; it’s a very old and traditional style of roofing across Cornwall and Devon.

Each slate is selected for its size; these are diminishing width slates similar to those used on both Crowdy Mill and La Tourelle, but the difference here is that each slate is drilled once, not for a nail, but for an oak peg which sits between the oak riven laths in a precisely measured location. All slates are bedded down with a good measure of lime mortar, then left to settle and to set firm for a great looking, solid roof that will last for 150 years or more.

And the 40 tonnes of lead? Firstly all the old lead is removed for recycling before the new lead is lifted before being rolled out as sheets for cutting and shaping to cover the rainwater heads and drainage channels, all twelve of the dormer windows with their triangular and arched pediments, along with the covering for the wooden cupola and of course the large flat sections of the roof itself.

Pete Scoble: “We have worked alongside BroadOak Construction on this large project, which means that we can get on with the slate and lead work while the main structure also takes shape. The rag slating and lead work is time consuming and it does require a great deal of planning and skill, but its rewarding work and all the team at South Hams Roofing who have worked on this historic house using these traditional techniques will carry and share this knowledge for years to come; this is work to take pride in and not many roofers have this kind of opportunity.”

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