An update - July 2020 - "Fix the Hall"
The Watson Institute is a beautiful – and old – building. 123 years to be precise. It serves as our invaluable village hall – and much more besides. It’s a unique landmark in the area and its ‘Castle’ design is synonymous with Castle Carrock. It's used by almost everyone in our community at some time or other – for weekly classes to village events to private parties to Christmas festivities to elections to parish council meetings to concerts, plays and talks.
But it has some structural issues we need to tackle on behalf of our community. We need to invest in some specific stabilization and refurbishment work so that it can carry on being enjoyed by our community now and for generations to come.
Following ongoing surveys and exploratory analysis, we began the work in March 2020 when we stabilised the building using a system of underpinning by a firm called Geobear - https://www.geobear.co.uk/public-buildings/ - you can see how they did it by watching this promo film here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkV64mZ2V0w&feature=youtu.be
Full listed building consent has been achieved.
The wooden sub floor put in 1927 to compensate for the sinking of original and to cover up worn out parquet together with wall panelling was removed before lockdown well ahead of schedule.This has revealed a previously unknown original fireplace and evidence of several failed attempts to remedy heating problems.
Essential drain repairs have been done.
The 1927 brick built fireplace has been removed to reveal the original 1897 Arts & Crafts 'mushroom' fireplace in remarkably good condition.
We are seeking quotes to remove the unsightly galvanised electrical trunking installed to support an earlier unsatisfactory heating system; re-engineer the electrical system to remove the clutter; install modern and versatile stage lighting and, maybe, replace the overhead lighting with luminaires more in keeping with this Grade II listed building.This will require conduit to be laid under the new floor. Some of this work may be done in phases as money becomes available.
Contractors have been appointed to repair the concrete slab floor and replace the wooden floor and panelling with a new sprung floor using engineered wood, stained dark oak. This is stalled at the moment due to the health emergency.
Contractors have been appointed to install Helibars in the corners of the structure to halt cracking in the masonry caused by roof spread and subsidence; replace damaged window mullions; and spalling stone work; rake out the faulty external cement pointing and repoint with lime based mortar which will keep out the rain; carry out internal masonry repairs to remedy the damage caused by various additions and subtractions over the years. We expect this part of the project to be completed in the autumn.
We have raised £12,500. We have £15,000 in our reserves. We have a £35,000 insurance claim. An application for funding to the Laing Family Trusts has been made.
With the addition of some modern features we aim to restore the building to something close to that envisaged by John Willaim Laing and James Proctor Watson when they handed it to the village in 1897.
You can read an article in The Cumberland News about fundraising for the project here.