The blog I should have posted ages ago!

Hi all!

Sorry for the delay in posting any blogs lately but we have just been so busy! Things are a bit mental here at the moment as H&J Martins have unleashed their work force and are marching onwards and upwards.

The project joinery team have started into the nitty-gritty joinery work which is very pleasant work and most rewarding.

The New Look Gallery

The central hall gallery has been the centre of attention for the past few weeks and if any of you have been in the house for a tour you will have seen a scaffold built in the central hall. This scaffold was built for a few reasons but the main reason being to strengthen the gallery which had been failing for some time and had been closed to the public for safety reasons.

The cause of the structural weakening was a very naive or very stupid plumber some time ago decided to notch the joists in order to run pipes through! Notching is fine and it’s done all the time, but these guys really did notching in style!

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Not only did they notch down half the depth of the joist but they did it close to the wall and as the gallery is cantilevered they could not have done it in a worse place. So our Structural Engineers were tasked to design a strengthening system and they came up trumps!

The decision was taken some time ago to remove the existing metal balustrade and restore the original timber spindles and handrails which would also assist the structural stability of the gallery.

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Richard Elphick our much loved Conservation Architect has had the time of his life drawing and redrawing plans needed for the required spindle. What made his life difficult was the fact that he only had a photo of the original balustrade which was taken some time in the 1950s. When the photo is enlarged the image gets distorted making Richards job near impossible to see fine details!

Callum has had the most interesting of times producing the spindle for the new look gallery. He was tasked to produce the mark 1 spindle, which was soon followed by mark 2 then mark 3 & 4! Now our Callum absolutely detests working a lathe, if you believe that you would also believe pigs can fly! Well nothing is further from the truth – he is very talented on a lathe as you have all seen in past blog posts.

So all was well in the workshop, the 4th spindle was finished and we all rejoiced! Richards’s superbly designed spindle and the dimensions he gave came together in one beautifully designed and crafted spindle.

Then out of nowhere Richard discovered a different photo of the gallery giving a clearer view and very soon a new revised drawing was issued. Callum on being told that another spindle had to be turned was totally distraught, virtually inconsolable! I didn’t know what to do! I thought long and hard on how I could motivate the lad, sought out all sorts of advice and finally after spending a lengthy time in deep contemplation……..the answer came to me, I bought him a bag of Maynard’s sports mix!

Callum on receipt of the bag whilst cramming his mouth with sweets, rose to the challenge and produced the best spindle I have ever seen! We all rejoiced this was it, mark 5 the final draft! Surely this was the final spindle, could we or anyone even dare to believe it was? Well….. NO!

If I could add here, Lady Rose blew us all away with her fantastic memory of the original gallery. On seeing the mark 5 spindle she agreed it was stunningly beautiful but it was not the same as the original. Richard lost yet more of the little hair he has left and with his reputation being on the line produced what we all hoped was the last drawing. I bribed Callum with yet more sweets and he commenced the ‘final’ mark 6 spindle.

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Other news

James our youngest apprentice is making steady progress learning new skills and I have included a few photos of him steadily working away.

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We removed a pair of doors in the Saloon which needed a lot of attention as they were badly warped, twisted and bent. Trevor has been fixing and patching one of the doors while I patch the other one.

I have included a few snaps of the work being carried out.

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Once again I apologise for the delay in the blogs, I will endeavour to try and keep posting as many as I can. If you read this and are about Mount Stewart and you spot us, as long as were are not operating machinery please come and see us in our workshop.