Tag Archives: Roof trusses

Hunting for Coaching Inns: Finding the details

Cassie standing outside of Allington House on the North Bailey in Durham.

Cassie standing outside of Allington House on the North Bailey in Durham.

As part of our Remaking Beamish project we are planning to recreate a lost coaching inn (look out for an announcement about exactly which inn it will be). While we always use lots of archival research when recreating a building that has both been demolished and disappeared from memory, we are often left with gaps and have to make informed guess. Often, it is the smaller architectural details that are unrecorded, such as window glazing bars and door surrounds, which may seem unimportant but can make all the difference in making a building feel authentic. Sometimes, there are larger chunks missing, such as the rear of a building, which may be out of shot of a photograph. Here it could be an entire facade that we have to make a well founded inference about.

The former Georgian front door of Allington House.

The former Georgian front door of Allington House.

Yesterday Clara and our newest member of the team, Cassie, went in search of some local examples to help fill a few of the blanks that are missing on our design for our coaching inn. We headed to Durham to visit Allington House on the North Bailey, former home of the architect Ingnatious Bonomi, which has been gradually developed and expanded from the 1700s right up to the 1950s. Here we found a hidden Georgian front door with a beautiful classically carved hood canopy, lopsided sliding sashes, 17th century roof trusses and plenty of wonky corridors.

A typical Palladian style Venetian window on a Georgian building in Durham.

A typical Palladian style Venetian window on a Georgian building in Durham.

The city of Durham itself provided some useful inspiration with all its moulded doorways and Georgian windows with typically distorted glass.

One of the many Neoclassical carved doorway of Durham.

One of the many Neoclassical carved doorway of Durham.

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The roof is raised at W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

CB roofFriday was an exciting day for the Buildings Team, as a second enormous crane arrived on the site of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s. It’s job was to lift the sections of the roof structure (which had be prefabricated back at the Joiner’s Workshop) into place.

The crane lifting a truss into place.

The crane lifting a truss into place.

Shaun, finally able to relax once the roof structure was in place!

Shaun was finally able to relax once the roof structure was in place!

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Raising the roof of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The Beamish joinery team working on the first roof truss for W.Smith's

The Beamish joinery team working on the first roof truss for W.Smith’s

Over the last couple of weeks Shaun and his team have been busy hand making the roof trusses for W. Smith’s. They are traditional ‘Queen post’ trusses, meaning that the rafters are supported by two upright struts (the queen posts) rather than a central support. The first completed truss was put together outside of the Joiners’ Workshop before being dismantled and used as a template for the rest. Once the right height has been reached on the brickwork of the building, the elements of the trusses will be lifted onto the scaffold by crane and fully erected on site.

The first completed truss for W. Smith's, made by hand from Douglas Fir timber.

The first completed ‘Queen post’ truss for W. Smith’s, made by hand from Douglas Fir timber.

The trusses of the building that we are copying, which still stands on Elvet Bridge in Durham, are just about visible in the attic. These trusses probably date to the early 1700s and are what’s called a ‘raised collar’ truss meaning that the ridge beam (or the central spine of the roof) is supported directly by the rafters with the the ‘collar’ or the tie beam connecting the two opposite rafters to provide strength. Unfortunately, while we would have loved to have recreated these trusses, our version is effectively a modern building and using collar trusses on it would not have been allowed under modern building regulations. However, when ‘translocate’ or move an old building we do have greater flexibility to work with structural engineers and building control to reused, restore or replicate ancient materials – as happened at St Helen’s Church.

A glimpse of the 'raised collar' trusses in the attic of the original building on Elvet Bridge, Durham.

A glimpse of the ‘raised collar’ trusses in the attic of the original building on Elvet Bridge, Durham.

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