Thursday, 8 September 2016

Tours of the Stores weekend

The weekend of the 13 and 14 September 2014 the museum celebrated Dorset Architectural Heritage Week by offering free admission to visitors and organising tours of the museum stores. The weekend proved a huge success. We ran three tours each day where visitors got a behind-the-scenes look at our new stores, the collections and an introduction to the history of the Priest's House.

Our volunteer Barbara is telling interested visitors about the history of the building during one of the guided tours

The volunteers had rallied and there were two eminent orators, Brian and Sue, who held talks on the history of the house and the collections. With over 35 000 objects making up the costume, childhood, archaeology, Victorian valentine’s cards, local history collections etc. they could have kept talking for days! The life of the museum, from important gentleman’s residence through grocer’s, stationer’s and ironmonger’s before becoming a community museum founded by Miss Hilda Coles, also proved an entertaining subject.

In the Hilda Coles Open Learning Centre a temporary display was set up for the weekend and manned by Cherry, a volunteer with the museum’s archaeology team, which featured various archaeological finds from the excavations at Tarrant Hinton from the 1960s to the 1980s. Cherry showed pottery, fruit and herbs and animal bones related to Roman culinary traditions, a human skeleton from the Iron Age period and there was a hands-on section with various pottery, bones, snails, herbs, tesserae and roof tiles that drew visitors in.

Brian holding a talk on the history of the house and the collections
Cherry talking to visitors about the culinary traditions of the Romans

The visitors who opted to attend the tours held on the Saturday, guided by Barbara, Brian, Sue and Christina, got a bit of a surprise when they entered the archaeology gallery. There they were greeted by two (very friendly) Roman soldiers from the 2nd Augusta, in full combat gear, who proceeded to tell the avid listeners about life as a soldier in the Roman army. There was lots of flashing of steel swords and showing-off of shields, spears and sandals.

Roman soldiers from the 2nd Augusta greeting visitors in the archaeology gallery

Luckily the weather was on our side and visitors could enjoy refreshments in the garden tearoom and on the patio. Many commented on our gorgeous garden with the stream running along the far end, the colourful and fragrant flowers, and many fruit trees. The star of the show though proved to be the medlar tree, Mespilus Germanica, which got (almost) as much attention as our tour guides!

Our lovely tearooms, with access to the garden served refreshments during the weekend

Christina Lundberg

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Open for business

The new building has now been welcoming visitors for the last three months. They can relax in the comfortable and airy surroundings of the new garden tearoom. The beautifully crafted oak frame and windows let in plenty of light and show off the views of the tranquil walled garden. Schools have been taking full advantage of the facilities offered by the learning centre and the museum has already hosted two very successful day schools on the archaeology of East Dorset and 'Mapping Wimborne'. Today the building is full of children and families having a go at an array of art and craft activities, discovering the wonderful world of paper.

The Hilda Coles Open Learning Centre was officially opened as part of a celebration of the museum's 50th birthday on Tuesday 31 July 2012. The day was marked with a series of speeches including Derek Burt, President of the museum, Cllr Mrs Lucy Clarke, Chairman of East Dorset District Council, Roger Goulding of the Heritage Lottery Fund and a blessing by the Reverend Vanessa Herrick, Rector of the Minster Church of St Cuthburga. The formalities were followed by a cream tea in the garden tearoom.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Almost there

The carpenters have completed their ‘second fix’.  The internal doors are on – there is still a little bit of ironmongery to add once the painters have finished.

The electrician has finished apart from testing and commissioning, while the mechanical engineer has a couple more brackets to add to the pipe work.

Shelving has been installed in the upstairs and downstairs storage rooms.

The decorator is working his way through the building.  A second coat of paint has been applied to the floor of the ground floor store.

The groundworkers have completed the external paving (there is now a beautiful patio outside the tearoom) and tarmac is being laid at the front of the building.

The decorator is the last trade to finish.  Cleaning and air testing (taking measurements for heat loss) is arranged for the early part of this week.

Any necessary training for new equipment will be provided.  For example, the mechanical engineer will run through the controls of the mechanical switchgear (water and electric control panels).

Final handover is scheduled for Wednesday 4 April.  Two or three days beforehand the architect goes around to ‘snag’ the building (spot any final jobs that need completing).  When the architect is happy with the work he signs a completion certificate.  The keys to the building are then handed over.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

16 March

With the completion of the glazing and external cladding the scaffolding on the outside of the building has now been removed.

They have started to lay the vinyl covering to the floor.  The moisture content was suitable to lay the vinyl straight on to the screed.  The ground floor storage roller racking will be installed from next Monday.

The decorators are making good progress throughout the building.  The external doors are now fitted and glazed.  Work continues on the internal doors and the folding partition doors between the learning room and tearoom are still to go in.

The groundworkers have completed excavations for the services.  From the edge of the site boundary the utility companies then connect up each service.  Gas and electric have been connected so far.

The groundworkers have started on the external paving, the patio outside the tearoom.

The kitchen has been installed and the lift is being commissioned today.

Key jobs over the next two weeks are the external landscaping of the site and connection of the water supply.  The vinyl will be laid in the tearoom and learning room.

End of February

The door frames are in and the external doors will be fitted this week.  The plastering has been completed, which is a significant job, and the last bit of internal scaffolding is coming down.

The glass is arriving for the external window frames and doors.  The timber framed glass screen on the east end of the building will also be fitted this week.  The frames are manufactured first to provide accurate measurements for the expensive units of glass.

The groundworkers have returned to install the services for the new building (gas, electric and water).  The utility companies will follow to connect up each service.

The ‘second fix’ for the mechanical elements of the build (e.g. extractor fans, heating etc.) and electrical elements (e.g. plugs, sockets, switches, lights etc.) is now underway.  The lift was installed last week.  Once the electricity supply is connected the lift will be commissioned.  This involves checking that it works and training given on how to use it.

The moisture content of the floor screed needs testing.  An additive was put in to help it dry more quickly.  If it is not quite dry a special adhesive will be used to fix the vinyl covering to the screed.

The builders are now commencing the final fit for each area, for example, installing kitchen cabinets and sinks.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Mid February

Preparations have been underway for the floor screed on the ground floor.  This is a mix of sand and cement reinforced with fibre.  Finally a vinyl covering will be added on top of the screed, for example, in the tearoom and entrance foyer.

The glazing has been completed in the entrance foyer.  These windows have a self cleaning film so could only be cleaned with water once installed so as not to damage the film.

The majority of the plasterboard is in place and the high level areas in the tearoom have now been plastered (this required a bird cage scaffold).

A big change has been the removal of most of the scaffolding.  For the first time the appearance and detail of the building’s construction is revealed to the passer by.

The carpenters are installing the window frames and the final section of cladding will then be fitted to the windows.  The doors should be in by the end of the week.

The ‘first fix’ is completed before the plasterers move in.  It includes all of the bits that are never seen, buried in the walls.  The ‘second fix’, including plug sockets and the like, should be underway by the end of the month, allowing enough time for the plaster to dry.

The groundworkers will be back on site soon to commence external works, preparing for paving and landscaping and finishing the drainage.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Early February

The roofing is almost complete, with a few adaptations being made around the glazed area.  The carpenters have finished the oak cladding and are now cladding the east side of the building.

Plasterboard is going up on the first floor, screwed to the timber walls.  A very fine layer of plaster will then be skimmed on top.  Wet plaster is used directly on any light weight block walls.

This is carried out by a plasterer.  It is highly skilled and hard work, plasterers having to use their arms continuously to get a smooth finish.  The colder it is the longer it takes for the plaster to set.

A plasterer first undergoes a three year apprenticeship, which is a standard length for most building trades, finishing with an NVQ.

The central section of glazing is almost in.  It is made up of bespoke parts, for example the glazing channel, the seal between the channel and the glass and the glass itself.  Modern glass is often hermetically sealed with a gas added in the middle to give it a higher insulation value.