Last Bit of the Roof (Part 29)

Martin & Mandy

Published VersionNow we have the roof sorted we need to set about rebuilding the covering, first thing that goes on is oak sarking boards. St John’s in Cottered has this kind of roof treatment and it looks a million times better than roofing felt, besides which the last time I looked felt had not been invented in the 1600’s. Next we have a layer of WBP – WBP stands for Weather & Boil Proof – I don’t think there’s much chance of it boiling up there but there’s certainly plenty of weather! This does not look as nice as the oak sarking but protects us from the elements. Published VersionNext we need counter batons to hold it all together; these run up and down the roof and produce an air gap between the sarking and the next layer which is a mad space age insulation material. This has the same insulation properties as the fibre wool in your loft but instead of being 250mm thick this stuff is only 10mm. Then we have another layer of counter batons and a layer of good old roofing felt. Finally the last batons go on which are horizontal ones and give us something to hang those tiles on that have been sitting on the scaffold all this time.

So we now have a roof in place and we have fab insulation and two air gaps that bats can snooze in and six bat holes that let them go all the way through from the outside world to the bell chamber roof. In one of the air gaps we have a 25mm plastic tube that allows me to get a cable from the bell chamber to the top of the roof and then up into the Hertfordshire spike - the idea here is to get a cctv camera into the weathervane The spike really was rotten through and through, so this has been rebuilt in oak, wrapped in sarking then had a plate put on the very top of it for the weathervane. After the lead theft we put a camera up at the top of the scaffold so we could see what was going on day and night, and one thing we discovered is that roofers are a mysterious lot - they turn up and wander around for hours on end looking as though they are doing nothing at all, looking at things and measuring stuff. Then there’s a burst of activity and if you happen to miss it you look Published Versionback at the camera and half the roof has been finished off! The lead workers are even more fascinating - they spend hours banging away with the leadwork but when you visit at the weekend and go and look at their handy work it really is a craft worth attention. One weekend when I visited the top of the roof was just about finished but nothing had been done to the spike and you could see all the different layers of materials that had been used to complete the work. The following Monday there was lots of dicsussion between all the builders about how to transition from the roof to the spike and make the lead work blend across that part of the roof. The end result that you can now see from the ground is certainly worth all the effort, but it’s not a quick process.

Anyway, we have a new weathervane design which has now gone through listed building consent. This is the same kind of size as the original Friends of Layston one, but has a ball below the vane itself, just like the one on St Richard’s in the high street. Inside that ball is a high tech bit of CCTV technology which will allow us to do some heavy duty wildlife photography and some nifty burglar recognition!

Published VersionThe top of the weather vane has a bee keeper and a bee hive along with a cat all perched on the top. Mandy has been instrumental in choosing and tweaking the design for the weather vane along with doing all the gilding. I’m afraid that Alan’s cap from his can of Cossack hair spray from the 80’s that has spent years keeping the water off the bearing at the top of the old weathervane has had to go! It was very difficult to get the metal work and the technology to play nicely together. I nearly gave up on it as I was trying to get the whole lot mounted on top of the spike whilst connecting the CCTV camera to the cables. Published VersionThe camera is quite trick, has a zoom lens on it and a motor drive that lets us move it around at will. It can track movement and see at night - I hope it never goes wrong because getting to it will be a nightmare!

The last thing to happen before the bank holiday weekend and the removal of the scaffold was a coat of ‘Smart Water’ for all the metal on the tower. This seaps into any metal it’s painted on and leaves a DNA finger print behind - the idea here is that the lead is much easier to trace in the case of theft, and with signs up thieves should be detered - let’s hope it does the trick.