Heritage roofing experts at Sheffield-based Martin-Brooks are putting the finishing touches to a two-year project at a local stately home where the residents insist on hanging around.
Martin-Brooks has reroofed a former cart shed and smithy that are home to a colony of bats, as part of the recently opened Stableyard at Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield.
The National Trust was aware that bats were present at Hardwick and in consultation with English Nature, a bat licence was granted for the project. This restricts work during the roosting months, usually April to September and requires regular inspections by an appointed ecologist
Evidence of the protected species also meant Martin-Brooks had to incorporate purpose-made bat slates into the rear slopes of the grade II listed buildings and install special roofing felt for the winged mammals.
Dale Wright, Martin-Brooks’ contracts director, said: “Having to work around bat colonies is not unusual when we are reroofing heritage properties, particularly when they have been unoccupied. Despite the challenges we faced, the finish achieved on the Stableyard is first class and it is a worthy addition to the Hardwick estate. It is always a pleasure to see old buildings given a new lease of life.”
Martin-Brooks started work on the Stableyard in 2010, removing the original stone slates and repairing timbers, before the roof coverings could be returned. Around 70% of the existing slates were re-used, although some additional York stone was needed to match the original finish.
The National Trust’s £6.5 million Stableyard project has involved the refurbishment of a collection of disused estate buildings at Hardwick. The new facilities will be open 365 days a year, providing catering and retail space, along with a new visitor reception.
Paul Wankiewicz, lead building surveyor for the National Trust, added: “Having worked closely with Martin-Brooks for many years, we knew they had the skills and experience necessary for this complex and sensitive project. Working on listed buildings is always a challenge, but when coupled with bat conservation, it is reassuring to know there are such capable craftsmen on hand who can be sensitive to the ecology, whilst producing excellent work.”