SPAB Scholars visit to Messenger

Published: 20th September 2021

The SPAB scholarship is an advanced training programme for architects, engineers and surveyors in building conservation. Travelling around the country for nine months, the scholars are exposed to a wide variety of projects, conservation issues, philosophies and crafts. This year, two architects and a structural engineer; Amy Redman, Libby Watts and Lucy Newport visited us here at Messenger Head Office.

They visited Messenger for two days in early August to learn all about lead roofs from experienced plumber Dr Jonathan Castleman and apprentice Dan Kosmaczewski.

The two days gave an introduction into the history of lead use, it’s detailing, common defects and repairs that they may encounter in projects. Discussions over alternative materials such as copper, terne coated stainless steel and zinc also provided an overview of their benefits and disadvantages, and when it might be appropriate for their specification. 

Following a demonstration from Jon and Dan, the three scholars had an opportunity to boss sand cast lead. This included trying a wood roll and hollow roll, using the traditional wooden dressers.

They commented
We find trying out the crafts helps us form an in depth understanding of detailing but also provides an appreciation for the skilled work asked of craftspeople on site.

A highlight of the two days was the lead melting pot. Heating reclaimed lead to 327°C, we could ladel the molten liquid into castings for rosettes and other decorative mouldings often seen on lead rainwater goods and roofs. This process required heating the moulds to the right temperature, and getting a feel for volume and speed of pour of the lead – not as simple as you would expect!

Many thanks to Jon, Dan and the whole team at Messenger for having us for the two days, we learnt a huge amount and really enjoyed the practical elements of leadworking.” 

Dr Jonathan Castleman DSc (Hons) adds
I have now been hosting the SPAB Fellows and Scholars for over 25 years.

I believe it is important for both architects and crafts people of the future to learn about the different types of materials and methods used in the conservation world. It is a privilege to pass those skills down to others.”

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