Essential building maintenance activities are now underway on the Grade ll listed Witham Arts Centre, Barnard Castle. Built in 1845 by public subscription, the building requires attention to its magnificent but ageing masonry. Over time these architectural features deteriorate through the effects of varied and often severe seasonal weather conditions. This causes erosion of stonework and pointing allowing water to penetrate the building fabric. Consequently, internal plasterwork and decoration are damaged by dampness within the solid stone walls. The current programme of remedial works will repair the historic effects of this natural process, apply some modern techniques for preventing further deterioration and safeguard the building against future water ingress.
Ada Burns, Vice Chair of The Witham Trustees said: ‘As custodians of this historic building, the current Trustees have an obligation to preserve it as best we can for future generations. Preservation is not always straight forward, due to old building methods, and having to use appropriate materials that work with the integrity of the building. Heritage buildings will always require appropriate ongoing maintenance to safeguard and update them. This is an integral part of the operational management of any building provided for public use and enjoyment.‘
She added: ‘We were extremely pleased the contract was awarded to local firm, Glasper Tunstall Stone Masonry Ltd, who have a reputation for working on historic buildings, including the Buttermarket in the town. We are reassured by their expertise and confident they will carry out sympathetic repairs. We are also impressed with how they are working with us to minimize disruption to our users/audience and café customers.’
The Witham will remain open for business during the repairs, which should be completed by early September. Scaffolding will be erected on the front of the building in the coming days, but this will not impact on access to The Witham or impede pedestrians. For more information please visit the website www.thewitham.org.uk
We are grateful to Durham County Council for its financial support in relation to the works.