Essential repairs required to secure future of Oakham town centre landmark

  Posted: 25.07.19 at 11:47 by The Editor

Essential repairs need to be carried out to Oakham's Town Pump building to secure the future of the town centre landmark.

Work needs to be carried out to the worn and weathered bases of the eight timber posts which support the 19th century grade II listed Market Place structure.

An application for listed building consent has been submitted to Rutland County Council to undertake the scheme.

The Town Pump building was constructed in the 1880s following demolition of the Shambles meat market and designed to provide shelter for the hand-operated public water pump.

A report to the council states: "The pump building is now suffering from some decay to its timber posts and work is needed to stabilise and repair the building for the future.

"The posts of the pump building sit on pad stones, now of concrete but likely to be a replacement or covering to stone or brick pads.

"The concrete has been brought up over the base of the posts as fillets to shed any water running down the posts.

"This has led to serious deterioration of the base of many posts."

The current proposal by specialist Reading-based company McCurdy & Co Ltd is to repair the base of the timbers by cutting off the worst decay of the base of the posts and patching in timber sections to others smaller problem areas.

The pads would also be raised by a course of bricks with the oak posts sitting on a bed of lime mortar, with lime mortar pointing.

"This proposal is designed primarily to retain as much original timber as possible while removing the decayed timber and preventing further water ingress into the timbers.

"The decayed bases have shrunk leading to more gapping around the cement pointing which now holds any water that runs in.

"The proposed base treatment will allow the mortar to breathe, releasing moisture, rather than containing it.

"These repairs will not alter the function, design or access of the building.

"Although the new timber sections will initially appear a different colour to the existing timber, they will soon change colour to match the existing silvery-brown tone.

"It is important that the work is carried out to prolong the life of the building, while sympathetically retaining as much of the original fabric as possible.

"The pump itself is a survivor of a period when public health and welfare became important to civic pride, but it is now obsolete.

"Its significance therefore lies in it being an historic feature that is frequently being removed from towns and villages without protected listing.

"However, the decomissioning of the pump now appears to enable the building to be used as a market cross or hall, continuing the tradition of this part of Oakham into the future," adds the report.

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