16th century Old Worden Hall near Leyland has stirred up interest in all quarters, from locals to historians and well known architectural archaeologists like Richard Morriss. But you only had to visit the site to understand that Old Worden Hall was equally fascinating for Maysand restoration team. With whole weekends spent researching the hall or ancient techniques like wattling and daubing, a framed picture of the building on his wall and hundreds of photos on his PC, for site manager Dick Wisbey, this was clearly more than a job it was a passion.
The Hall had been tucked away on BAE Royal Ordnance Factory site since it opened in 1938. After the factory closed, the Hall fell into disrepair and was put on the building at risk register by English Heritage. When the site was sold, the terms of the planned Buckshaw Village development included a £600,000+ restoration of the hall, for which Maysand was appointed main contractor, working with leading historical architects Donald Insall Associates.
Dick says the hall was in a dismal state: It was held up by support scaffolding, the back wall had fallen away and the first floor was unstable. Barely any floorboarding was salvageable and there were structural timber issues to resolve over half the restoration bill went on timber repairs alone.
Maysand’s brief was to replicate the original. But the way the replication was achieved is what counts, according to Dick: What came off, where possible, went back on, so the wattle was saved and repaired, and the daub removed and bagged for remixing and reuse.
All the materials had to be authentic even bricks that were to be covered with plaster to preserve the integrity of the building. It’s better to show an honest repair than to try and hide it because that way the building itself holds the key to its own history.
The team obviously did a great job: even before work was completed in August 2006, Maysand was getting rave reviews for its timber and brickwork. Simon Malam, the architect, and Mark Easton, Chorley Borough Council Area Planning Officer, were both really pleased with what we achieved, says Dick.