Is the Old School Hall falling down?

Our stated aim is to help save the Old School Hall building and ideally to retain community use of the site. But Rome wasn't built in a day and historic buildings can't be saved at the drop of a hat! We are steadily assembling the building blocks that are needed; you can read about our efforts so far on this previous post.

In this update we want to tell you about another important step - understanding the structural problems that the Council have identified in its reasoning for closing the building down.

Above: Cracking of the brickwork caused by foundation settlement and damp from a leaky gutter

The dOSH committee, with funding from the Old School Hall Management Committee, has commissioned a report from Nottingham engineers Price & Myers. Looking first at the building as a whole, engineer Lois Plaistow was able to narrow down structural problems to a section of the building that has been unused for years, since cracking and settlement was first noticed. The building has been in continuous use with this problem ongoing as it was relatively easy to ensure safety by putting the affected area off-limits. The main hall, kitchen, toilets and office areas have never been affected.

Above: Lois Plaistow of Price & Myers inspecting the foundations in a trial hole at the rear of the building facing Perlethorpe Avenue. In the background, Chris Heuvel of NTU and Stevie Doig of Growin' Spaces.

Untreated (but finally now made safe with some scaffolding), the problem has got worse over time and now requires some underpinning of the foundations and stitching together of the brickwork - relatively simple measures to implement for a permanent solution. Further information on the structural survey findings and remedial measures needed can be obtained by emailing dOSH chair Brian Grundy.

So to the question- is the Old School Hall falling down? The answer is that a small part of the building has had to be stabilised with scaffolding, and will need to be repaired in the future. The bulk of the hall is unaffected by structural problems.

Working with Chris Heuvel, an architect from Nottingham Trent University and local architecture practice 2hD, a condition report has been assembled which identifies the key maintenance and repair work needed to stop further decline of the building, and the space has been measured up to identify the scale of costs and potential for income if the building is reused.

Vegetation from the Windmill Park side of the building continues to grow into the gutters, buttresses and bricks, and through the roof tiles- lifting these to allow water penetration to the interior of the building. This is creating damp problems inside the building which are exacerbated by the lack of ventilation now the building is unoccupied. Like the structural problems, these maintenance issues are relatively easily solved by clearing the vegetation away and making minor repairs to the guttering, roof and brickwork. The Council has confirmed that they won't be doing any of this work so, with the building's ownership and future uncertain, we'll be looking in to ways that further decline can be halted by the community.

Above: Vegetation growing into the roof tiles and missing tiles creating damp in the building

Soon, we will announce another public meeting to show details of what we've been working on and to seek your ideas and support for the next moves. So watch this space for updates!

Many thanks to residents of Perlethorpe Avenue for their assistance with access to the rear of the Hall for our structural inspection.