We were asked to “de-veg” (remove all trees, plants and grass) from inaccessible areas of the grade 2 listed Conway Building in Birkenhead.
Why is vegetation on buildings sometimes dangerous?
Vegetation can cause considerable damage to historical buildings. All plants attach themselves to building structures in some way. This can soften the underlying wall material, or for the likes of ivy, small pieces of masonry can break off. Water retention is another major problem, where the leaves of plants collect water which is held against the exterior wall, encouraging rot and insect infestation.
Since being built in 1903, The Conway has been a school, hotel, education centre, offices and a police station! It is a fine example of a red brick and orange terracotta building with a Westmorland roof.
There are three storeys boasting a frontage of 18 bays in 7 blocks. The central block has a turret with an octagonal cap, while the other blocks have turrets that house statues.
Through rope access we could easily inspect tricky areas of the building
Rope access was judged by the client to be by far the most effective and cost-efficient way to inspect the building.
We could move quickly around the facades and remove any dangerous materials immediately. There was no need for expensive scaffolding or Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs).
We inspected all the facades for lose masonry, and found large sections of brick, terracotta and slate in immediate danger of falling. We worked on the building for 2 weeks. There was no disruption to the running of the building, as would have been the case if using MEWPs that need to be stationed on the ground with designated safety areas around them.
Benefits to the client
- The client was able to save time and money by using our rope access services to combat a range of issues in one go, rather than other methods that take much longer and use expensive equipment
- Historical buildings need to be treated with great care. We use our knowledge, sensitivity and experience to work on such buildings without causing any damage.
- We were able to educate the client in identifying the potential hazards of vegetation on the building. They were impressed by our knowledge and efficiency in fixing the problems.
- Photographs and videos of our findings were provided to the client for full transparency so that they could see for themselves the difference in the building before and after the work was completed. This gave them reassurance that their funds were well spent and helps them to look out for similar problems in the future.
- There was no disruption to the use of the building
Benefits to people using the building
- The building is now free from objects potentially dropping from the building, making it safer for people entering or leaving
- The work not only benefited people who use the building. Conway Street is a busy route for people going into town and the bus station.