Freddy Markham, Morland

Shire Homes have done three projects for Morland House Estate, near Penrith. All of them were the restoration, repair and refubishment of old stone buildings to adapt them for modern use. The first was the renovation of The Old Assembly Room and its conversion into the Mill Yard Cafe. This involved extensive lime repointing in the traditional method, tanking, and the creation of new window openings using recycled stone. The interior required new electrical systems, new gas central heating and cooking, new floors both wooden and tiled, two new lavatories. Shire Homes worked well with the sub-contractors and kept working on the job until it was finished against a deadline. The second project was the modernisation of an old cottage, Poplar Cottage, which required the replacement of crumbled stonework, the creation of a new window opening, extensive new ceilings and walls, a new central heating system, installation of a wood burning stove with relined chimney, new windows throughout, gutter and roof repairs, and lime pointing. The third and most difficult project was the repair of Morland House, a large complicated building dating from the seventeenth century with eighteenth and nineteenth century additions. The most difficult aspect was the removal and repair of Victorian metal windows and the replacement of broken and missing catches and fittings. No other firm nationally could be found to do this complicated work. In addition there was extensive lime pointing, rebuilding and relining of stone chimneys, replacement of gutters with moulded GRP and cast iron, digging out and clearing of drainage systems, the major rebuilding of a gable wall on which the leaves were parting and refixing the outer leaf to the inner wall, and rebuilding it vertically and resetting the stone window. This last item had to be done with care to prevent interior decorations being damaged. At all times Shire Homes showed great dedication, skill, resourcefulness and energy in overcoming every difficulty and obstacle with imaginative cost-effective solutions. Once started on a project, they kept working at it until it was finished. The quality of their workmanship is excellent. I recommend them highly for complicated one-off projects requring exceptional levels of intelligence and skill.

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