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Town Hall repair costs hit the roof

PUBLISHED: 18:12 29 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:08 03 July 2010

SPIRALLING COSTS: Repair work to the roof of the Town Hall, from where this photo of South Quay was taken

SPIRALLING COSTS: Repair work to the roof of the Town Hall, from where this photo of South Quay was taken

Laura Bagshaw

A PROJECT to restore one of Great Yarmouth's most historic buildings has unearthed even more problems - causing costs to rocket way past the original estimate.

Underneath the Town Hall scaffolding

A PROJECT to restore one of Great Yarmouth's most historic buildings has unearthed even more problems - causing costs to rocket way past the original estimate.

The bill to repair the Town Hall has hit more than £2m, which is £550,000 more than the original estimate.

Council officials say that closer inspection of the crumbling roof revealed that a number of ornamental gables, parapets and chimneys had deteriorated so badly they had become unstable and in need of rebuilding and strengthening.

And they warn that costs could spiral once again when workmen begin repairing the west side of the building.

Glen Holmes, senior architect technician with the borough council, explained that one of the problems workers had encountered is that repairs carried out about 20 years to stonework were actually causing original stonework to deteriorate quicker.

He said: “Some kind of stone filler was used in repairs about 20 years and it is causing the original stonework to deteriorate faster for some reason.”

The bill for stonework restoration has soared by £130,000 to £297,000.

Costs have also risen on addressing structural dry rot - found to be much worse than expected - as well as timber, pipes and leadwork repairs.

Mr Holmes explained that with health and safety laws workers could only get up close to the chimneys and ornaments once the scaffolding was in place.

He said: “We found all three chimneys were in a bad state - the brickwork was fractured just above roof level.”

Mr Holmes explained that a lot of the brickwork had deteriorated that badly it would crumble when put under pressure.

An extra £19,000 will need to be found to repair the movement and dials of the town hall clock and fit an electric wind facility to end the need for three-times-a-week manual winding.

Several sections of the Town Hall's roof have already been replaced and project managers are optimistic that they can reuse 60pc of the slate tiles. And for the first time the roof will have layers of insulation in a bid to make the building more energy efficient.

David Frowde, head of the council's architectural services, said the new insulation was equivalent to a foot of fibre glass used in most domestic properties.

Mr Frowde said work to repair the 155-year-old building was vital as it was a grad two * listed building.

He said: “The council has always maintained the town hall, but with buildings of this type there comes a stage when you have to undertake major restoration work rather than the patching and repairing which is what has happened in the past.”

It was the first time in the building's history that the roof had been completely replaced, he added.

As the scaffolding shrouding the building represented a major part of the cost, it was important to get as much restoration work done as possible while it was up. Mr Frowde said when the work was completed in October it would be “wonderful to see one of Yarmouth's finest buildings restored to its full glory”.


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