Ordsall Hall Museum
Historic Timber Specialist: David Yeomans
Archaeology: Oxford Archaeology North
Ordsall Hall Museum is a grade 1 listed building in Salford, Greater Manchester. Parts of the surviving building date back as far as the mid fourteenth century and the site as a whole represents a significant record of how people lived, worked and adapted buildings for their own use over a very long period. Several years ago the city council found that the building was falling into disrepair and was underused for such a valuable asset and decided to repair, improve and enhance the facilities to reflect twenty first century aspirations and uses whilst retaining the historic fabric which forms an essential part of any visitor’s experience.
Among it’s most notable features are the Great Hall, which is one of the largest timber Tudor open halls to survive in the region and a large attic in the west wing featuring the original C16 oak timber trusses and curved wind braces with substantial areas of medieval wattle and daub infill. There are also the 14C timber ceilings of the Star Chamber and the Great Chamber above whose curved roof braces are highly decorated in what has been discovered to be medieval Christian iconography.
Previous repair programmes had tended to be short term remedies employing modern inappropriate and unsympathetic materials and ideas many of which were progressively damaging the historic fabric and the effect of these needed to be understood before the work proper could begin. Because of the significance of the building and site it was agreed by the team at the outset that all repair, maintenance and general conservation work was to be carried out in compliance with best conservation principles. Part of this approach required specific policies to be adopted to ensure that the work was only undertaken by experienced practitioners and contractors who fully understood the Hall’s significance, methods of construction and repair which develop and maintain the Hall and site in accordance with international and national conservation principles and policies, and ensure compliance with all statutory and legal requirements. Much of the original fabric as possible was to be retained and a policy of minimum intervention into the historic fabric, (which also included some of the alterations made in the 1970’s), was to be followed so that the true development of the building could be interpreted and understood. Wherever work was undertaken it was executed so that it preserved, enhanced and promoted the architectural quality and significance of the Hall and site for all staff and visitors. Time was set aside for consultations with numerous specialists who, for example, advised on plaster, paint and timber.
Traditional materials were used such as air dried English oak for all timber frame repairs whether structural or not because it was a similar material to the original and from a certified sustainable source. Having lower moisture content than more readily available oak it was less likely to develop movement problems. All internal and external timberwork was cleaned and left untreated and unpainted at completion to not only reflect the original medieval finish but also so that moisture could evaporate more freely from exposed surfaces and particularly joints.
Location322 Ordsall Lane, Salford, M5 3AN (Greater Manchester)
ArchitectLloyd Evans Prichard
Structural EngineerUrban Vision
SpeciesAir dried English oak
ClientSalford City Council
JoineryH. Lord & Son
Project LeaderJackie Ashley, Senior Project Manager, Urban Vision Partnership Ltd