An odds-on favourite with race-goers
The National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, Suffolk was founded on just one item – a whip carried by John Osborne the winner of the 1869 Derby. The whip joined other horse racing items and in 1965, this memorabilia became a museum devoted to racing based in the new grandstand at York. The official National Horseracing Museum eventually opened at Newmarket in 1983 but three decades later the Museum is moving to Palace House as part of the new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.
Champing at the bit
Graham Warnes, Peter Cox area manager said: “During the 1660′s Charles II identified Newmarket as the ideal base for improving the bloodlines of his running horses because of the unique qualities of the chalk heathland. The Palace House complex is a hidden gem of racing and architectural heritage comprising of Palace House, Charles II’s racing stables, the Trainer’s House and a four and a half acre paddock.”
We are restoration thoroughbreds when it comes to working on historic buildings and so were the firm favourites when it came to treating dry rot, woodworm infestation and fungal decay.
A survey identified dry rot in certain parts of the Palace House basement and chimney breast, in the Trainers House/Restaurant and in Rothschild Stables.
Dry Rot spores are ubiquitous and there is no environment free of them. The spores will germinate and grow in timber with a moisture content of between 20 and 30 per cent and this malignant fungus will attack structural timbers old and new. It is the most serious form of fungal decay and can have serious consequences for any property, particularly a historic one. If left untreated, dry rot can spread rapidly, even through brickwork and concrete walls, to attack structural timber.
In order to treat the areas the Peter Cox team drilled and sterilised the walls and fungal growth was removed. Holes were formed at staggered centres in the walls and fungicidal fluid applied under pressure at the recommended rates to each hole together with a surface application.
Our team also found many areas of wet rot both in structural and joinery timbers which meant that any remaining timbers left in situ with high moisture content could potentially develop dry rot in the future and so our advice to the client was to monitor this issue.
“We are always keen to ensure that we don’t carry out any unnecessary work,” said Graham, “and in this case our advice is to take a wait and see approach but should the situation change to let us know right away.
“Similarly, we advised the client that the wall panelling to the stable walls were decayed as were the battens and fixing grounds. Here we advised that a protection barrier should be installed prior to renewal or repair of such items.”
A clear winner
The survey also found evidence of insect infestation in some areas by the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum) in roof and floor timbers. This wood-boring insect is responsible for about 75% of all woodworm damage in this country and will attack softwood and hardwood. To treat the problem, all accessible exposed roof timber surfaces were prepared and insecticidal fluid applied to all such exposed surfaces. Where the problem was found in flooring, the floorboards were lifted and insecticidal fluid applied to all such exposed surfaces.
“We were really pleased to have been able to play a part in the development of this major sporting centre,” said Graham. “The project is another great name to add to our portfolio and demonstrates that Peter Cox is always a safe bet when it comes to historic buildings.”