The Heritage Action Zone Grant provided to Wakefield Council by Historic England for upper Westgate allowed us to work on behalf of Westgate Unitarian Chapel. The Westgate Unitarian Chapel is a grade II star-listed building in Wakefield, England. The Heritage works contract for this Chapel was awarded to The Yorkshire Lime Company, and we are proud to have been chosen to lead the project.
Westgate Chapel is the ONLY non-conformist chapel in the country with catacombs. In 1750, the congregation had outgrown the Westgate Common chapel, which needed repair due to flooding from Ings Beck. A subscription was opened to build a new chapel with several vaults or catacombs under the main building for 60 persons. This was funded entirely by private ‘persons’ for their ‘families’ and enabled much of the chapel to be built with other funds from borrowing and pew rents. Ten members of The Milnes family subscribed and were the largest subscribers.
In 1751 the plot of land the chapel was built on was purchased. The chapel was designed by John Carr and his son. Who employed and used the Materials of the said Old Chapel, Including the original pulpit from 1737 and box pews. The project manager at the time was Stephen Holdsworth. He used bricks made in Wakefield, England, to build the church’s exterior walls. Many architectural details were taken from Wentworth Woodhouse. The internal bricks and timber fittings are from the earlier Chapel of 1697, known then as “The Bell Chapel”. (known as this because it was the FIRST none conformist chapel to have a bell). Westgate Unitarian Chapel first opened its doors to the public in 1752.
Our work included Heritage skills training for ten Wakefield College students using traditional hot lime mortars. The Heritage skills training in Wakefield included hot lime mixing and pointing techniques. The students could put their new skills to use immediately, and the results are impressive. The Chapel is better protected from the weather, and the students have gained valuable experience to help them in their future careers. We are grateful to the Heritage Action Zone for their support in preserving this critical piece of Wakefield’s history. The Heritage skills training program was a success due to the student’s hard work and the support of Wakefield Council and Historic England. The Heritage Action Zone Grant was provided to Wakefield Council by Historic England to restore their buildings on Westgate. We are proud to have provided this opportunity for the students, and we are confident that they will be able to use their new skills to make a difference in their community.
Westgate Unitarian Chapel is undergoing a comprehensive restoration programme to return its interior and exterior to their original condition. This programme involves the removal of modern materials previously placed around the building, such as plastic paints, N.H.L. mortars, and cement-based mortars. Moreover, repairs are being conducted on the self-supporting brick arches so that they can last for generations to come. It is truly remarkable how this 17th-century chapel – which has stood strong through time – is now being carefully restored and preserved for posterity. The restoration project also provides insight into how masonry work was undertaken in previous centuries, giving us an appreciation for our past and a foundation upon which we can continue building our future.
Traditional skills are essential for anyone who owns or manages a heritage building. One of these traditional skills is limewashing. Limewash is a traditional decorating technique that gives walls a beautiful, natural finish while still allowing the walls to breathe. Another heritage skill is hot lime pointing. Lime pointing is a technique used to replace missing mortar in masonry joints. Hot lime pointing involves slaking quicklime and using the hot mortar to fill the gaps between bricks and stones.
Masonry repairs like replacing brickwork and stone surface repairs are also critical heritage skills. These repairs include replacing or improving cracked and damaged masonry using compatible materials. A masonry repair mortar or a stone indent can repair damaged stone surfaces. Brick tile repairs and shelter coats are other ways of preserving the original fabric of a building. Brick replacements are usually undertaken by flipping the original brick around. Still, if this can not be done, another must be found with the same porosity so that it does not cause problems to the masonry around it. By keeping these heritage skills alive, we can help to preserve our Heritage buildings for future generations.
Heritage Skills Training at Westgate Unitarian Chapel in Wakefield
Heritage preservation is essential for many reasons. One of the most significant is that it helps to keep traditional skills alive. In today’s world, where technology is rapidly changing, it can be easy to forget the importance of heritage skills. However, these skills are essential for maintaining our heritage buildings. That’s why we were pleased to provide students from Wakefield College with heritage skills training. We explained the benefits of using lime mortar while it is hot. We also showed them the correct mixing and application methods. Historic England was also on-site and took part in the presentation for the students at the end.
The Heritage skills required for historic building restorations are becoming increasingly rare, but the Westgate Unitarian Chapel project offered local people training opportunities to learn these skills. Restoring these heritage buildings will greatly boost the city’s economy and help attract more tourists to Wakefield. The council is committed to preserving these buildings for future generations.
In recent years, The Chapel had begun to show signs of wear and tear, and it was clear that some restoration work was necessary. Our team of professional craftsmen set to work on various projects to restore the Chapel to its former glory. The roof tiles are in the process of being hot lime torched, and the bell tower and bell have been inspected. We are repairing the masonry as we go around the building and have also prepared a conservation plan for work inside the catacombs. Traditional materials and methods are used to maintain the historic fabric of the building. The result will be a beautifully restored Chapel that will stand the test of time.
The Heritage Action Zone grant provided by Historic England has allowed us to take part in restoring this beautiful Grade II Star-listed building. We provided mortar specifications and advice for Westgate Unitarian Chapel. We also included on-site traditional skills training for the local college and allowed Wakefield Council’s chosen subcontractors access at our discretion. The students have practised removing incompatible materials from historic brickwork. The students also practised the application methods of using hot mixed lime mortars. These skills are crucial when working on traditional structures like these because they require special attention; it’s not just about the looks but durability and functionality too!
Using hot lime mortar for brickwork repairs is a traditional method dating back to Roman times. Hot lime mortar is made from calcined limestone and is known for its durability and environmental friendliness. In addition, it is easy to work with and can be easily applied to traditional masonry structures. As a result, hot lime mortar is an ideal choice for those looking to restore or preserve historic brick buildings. The repair work at Westgate Unitarian Chapel was completed using hot lime mortar, which will help ensure the brickwork’s longevity. Hot lime mortar is just one example of how we are committed to preserving the Heritage of this important building.
Lime mortar is used to remove moisture through capillary movement. This process occurs when the lime reacts with CO2 in the air to form calcium carbonate. This calcium carbonate binds with the water molecules in the mortar, allowing the water to be drawn out and evaporated into the air. As a result, traditional masonry structures made with hot lime mortar are more resistant to moisture damage than those made with Portland cement. In addition, traditional materials such as brick and stone are also more porous than modern materials like concrete, which helps to prevent moisture from becoming trapped inside the structure. As a result, traditional construction techniques using lime can help to create a more favourable environment for historic buildings.
Lime torching is a heritage roofing skill often used on historic buildings like churches. Although you rarely see Lime torching because it is usually found in a loft space, it has several functional benefits. For example, lime torching helps regulate the humidity in roof spaces by holding water vapour and releasing it from circulating air.
Using lime torching in your roof space prevents the build-up of moisture, which can damage the roof beams and lats. Lime torching is made with hot lime mortar mixed with chalk coal grit and goat’s hair. The mixture is then spread onto the surface and left to cure. Once lime torching has cured, it forms a lightweight, vapour-porous surface that lasts many years. We undertook Heritage skills training to enable us to repair the roof of Westgate Unitarian Chapel using lime torching. This lime torching will help to preserve the historic building for future generations.
Yorkshire’s traditional and Heritage buildings are some of the most beautiful and exciting in the country. These buildings reflect the area’s rich history, from charming cottages to grand stately homes. However, traditional buildings can be challenging to maintain, and many owners need expert help. That’s where the Yorkshire Lime Company comes in. We specialise in using hot lime mortar for masonry repairs, lime torching, Lime pointing and lime washing. Our team of experts has extensive experience working with historic buildings, and we’re based in Wakefield, serving clients all over Yorkshire. If you’re looking for a company that can help restore your traditional structure to its original glory, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Limewashing at Westgate Unitarian Chapel
When looking for a way to protect wooden windows, structural roof timbers and floor joists from rotting, limewash is an excellent choice. Not only does it draw out moisture, but it is also capable of preventing bug infestations like woodworm and death watch beetle. Since limewash can absorb odours and is antifungal, it can be combined with adequate ventilation in cellars or basements to help regulate moisture levels. Due to its natural antibacterial properties and odour-neutralising qualities, outhouses were also often limewashed in the past. It’s easy to see why limewashing has such widespread applications and why many people opt for it as a durable, cost-effective way of protecting wooden structures.
The Forgotten Women of Wakefield
Several women of note from Wakefield’s political, social, economic, political and cultural past were prominent Unitarians. Clara Clarkson, a Victorian diarist, whose award-winning film based on her struggles with gender and identity is just one. Her cousin, Ann Clarkson, set up one of the first SPCA, which later became the longest-running RSPCA in the UK. Ann Hurst, a radical newspaper owner whose anger about slavery and whose Abolitionist campaign changed the political landscape of Wakefield and Great Britain forever, was an integral part of the Chapel. Louisa Fennell, whose family worshipped at the Chapel and whose art can now be found on the streets of Wakefield, was also honoured at Westgate alongside famous visitors such as Ann Bronte.
Preserving this historic Grade II* building in the heart of Wakefield is essential in honouring the legacy of these women. This is why working with The Yorkshire Lime Company is necessary. Lee Gillard and his team treat the building with care and respect, not only because of the history of the bricks but because of the Heritage and stories the bricks hold. This means so much to us here at Dream Time Creative as the powerhouse behind The Forgotten Women of Wakefield and our #blueplaqueparity campaign as we preserve the present and look forward to the future held by a building rooted in the past.