The Old School, a Grade II listed building in the centre of Addingham Village Conservation Area has been used since 1974, as a library with upstairs meeting space for Addingham Parish Council. Originally a single storey village school built by Anthony Ward in 1669 the upper storey was added in 1805 and the school moved to the new upper floor with the original lower floor divided to create cottages for the poor. In 1827 the western cottage was converted to a lock-up or gaol and for a time the other cottage was used as a girls’ school. The upper room ceased being a school at the end of the nineteenth century and subsequently the lower rooms were variously used as cottages for the poor & shops.
The building remained in use by the community and Parish Council until 2017 when a contract for further upgrading of the property commenced. However, the initial stripping out revealed serious problems with the stability of the building and it was declared structurally unsafe and the Parish Council was advised it would have to be demolished. A view not shared by Bradford Metropolitan Council Conservation Officers and as a result, the Parish Council approached architects Richard Crooks Partnership and engineers Capstone Consulting to jointly carry out a full assessment of the property & its future viability.
Investigations by the newly appointed professional team revealed that as the front wall had bowed over time the main upper floor beams had moved out of the supporting walls and lintels leaving very little end bearing. Past repairs included cutting short the decayed ends of the main beams built into the damp rear wall and bolting additional timbers to each side. The original floor joists also had insufficient end bearing & damage so the whole upper floor was weak and in danger of collapse.
Externally the front wall did not appear to have particularly serious cracking but exposure of the inner face revealed inner walling of random stone rubble in a very poor state with deep open pockets, wide cracks & a large number of loose stones.
The Old School is partially built into the hillside and at ground floor level it was discovered that the rear and side walls which retained the ground outside had no foundations and only extended down to just below the current floor level. These walls had no damp proofing properties.
The professional team subsequently prepared proposals to address the structural issues and concurrently produced a scheme incorporating new facilities in order to expand the community use for the building in order to secure its long-term sustainability. Meantime the council and community library volunteers were busy raising funds and applying for grants to cover the cost of repairing & upgrading the building. By January 2019 sufficient funds had been raised and contractors were appointed. The Addingham Hub officially reopened in June 2019.
The Conservation and Sustainability Philosophy for this project was to repair the building using traditional materials and techniques appropriate to historic buildings and to retain as much of the ‘original’ fabric intact and minimise the impact of any essential interventions.
The external masonry was repointed with traditional lime mortar which has a low carbon footprint and allows the relatively free evaporation of moisture from the masonry unlike modern cement based mortars which trap moisture making the walls cold and damp which significantly reduces their thermal insulation properties and also accelerates the rate of erosion of the surface of the stone.
Sheep’s wool insulation was used in the roof voids as this is a sustainable natural material which can retain moisture and then release it when atmospheric conditions are right without any detrimental effect to the stability and performance of the material.
The building’s masonry was stabilised by introducing stainless steel bed joint reinforcement and resin anchors into the upper walls; loose masonry was rebuilt; voids grouted and internal mortar joints repointed with traditional lime mortar. These walls were then tied back to the first floor structure with bespoke stainless steel straps and traditional tie bars. The existing render finish to the rear and gable walls was retained. The old timber beams & joists to the upper floor construction were strengthened using a combination of steel flitch plates & small brackets. Some extra joists were introduced as necessary to achieve the required loading capacity. It had been intended to leave the original floor construction exposed but Building Control insisted this was fire protected.
The new concrete ground floor slab restrains the base of the external retaining walls and both were tied together with stainless steel dowel bars in the absence of any foundations. This work together with the upper floor restraint and masonry reinforcement providing a stable structural ‘box’.
This project rescued an important local heritage asset which had been an important element of the village street scene for centuries. It is now fit for modern use, complete with disabled access and toilet facilities, and with a sustainable means of maintaining it for the future. For the first time in the building’s history, the two floors are connected internally by a staircase, and at the upper level has an accessible toilet, tea bar and storage for the meeting room. Direct access to the upper room via the external door has been improved by ramping up the footpath to the rear of the property.
The Addingham Hub brings together 3 objectives – the restoration of a valued local heritage asset (the building); a base for a new heritage collection (the archive) and reinstatement of library services and Parish Council function.
Since reopening in June 2019 there has already been a significant increase in use of the building and as a consequence a part-time manager has been employed. The library has also seen a significant increase in footfall. The broadband connection enables the public to directly access all Bradford Metropolitan District Council’s online services including library collection and books can be ordered direct for collection from the Addingham Hub. The Hub also provides tourist information for visitors to the Yorkshire Dales.