Building conservation masterclass

Structural Repair of Historic Buildings with Ian Hume

Ref: B3D10058

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About this course

This course is of special value to those who wish to gain a new perspective in applying engineering principles to the conservation of historic structures.

Various permanent repair methods which might be applied to historic buildings are discussed and there will be debate about the merits of hidden repairs against more obvious repairs. Not all historic buildings are as hazardous as they sometimes seem and we will discuss alternatives to the carrying out of repairs to apparently unstable structures.

The programme covers inspecting, monitoring and repair works ranging from pointing and grouting to tying and underpinning. It also includes practical exercises, demonstrations and trials of equipment and remedial monitoring techniques. Use will be made of case studies to illustrate various points, discussion will be encouraged and there will be opportunity for discussion in small groups to consider specific problems. There will also be a visit to the Weald and Downland Living Museum.

The course will be of value to architects, conservation officers, masons, carpenters and others involved in conservation, as well as to engineers.

Course Description

Day 1
Introduction to the course; who we are and what we do; philosophy of conservation; Discussion point 1:  What is conservation? Reporting back  

Day 2  
Understanding your building
The inspection of historic buildings, understanding the structure, what does its history say to you?
Discussion point 2:  The old library; Reporting back; The basics of structural behaviour 
The ‘do nothing’ option; ways of avoiding intervention
Monitoring equipment and methods; Load testing; Floor loadings
Visit to the Weald and Downland Living Museum
Looking at timber repairs
Beginning to do something
Scaffolding and temporary works; Discussion point 3:  Thinking through the processes; Reporting back; French drains
Evening  Discussion of students’ problem cases

Day 3 
The ‘do nothing’ option
Masonry repairs; Ties and anchors; Discussion point 4:  Strengthening timber beams; Reporting back; Timber beam strengthening and repairs
Visit to the Engine Shed
The ‘don’t do very much’ option
Pointing and grouting; Looking at more timber repairs; A look at repairs for metal
Minor intervention case studies
Evening  Discussion of students’ problem cases.

Day 4  
A miscellany of thoughts
The structural aspects of service installations; Cantilever stairs; Traffic vibrations; The effects of climate change on structures; Boundary walls; Jacking structures; Moving structures; 
Conservation of modern movement buildings; Limecrete
Visit to the Ruinette
The major intervention option
Two conservation schemes at Ironbridge; Underpinning; Case studies
The major intervention option
Case studies
The value of accreditation
Issue of certificates and depart.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

The informal evening sessions provide an opportunity for participants to present a structural problem for group discussion. Please come prepared with a case you would like to present; pictures/slides and/or drawings would be useful.


Ian Hume

Ian Hume - BCM Course Leader

Ian is a former Chief Engineer with English Heritage. He is a visiting lecturer on a number of university postgraduate conservation courses and runs seminars on the structural aspects of conservation. He has published a number of papers and articles.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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