My town has suffered burst pipes and potholed roads after winter tightened its icy grip. Just around the corner from home, firefighters were called after the feed pipe to the water tank in the loft of an empty listed building split and caused extensive flood damage.
I’ve been more fortunate, though it’s been so cold that pieces of vitreous china have broken off the rim to one of my outside WCs! I took the precaution of closely inspecting the supply pipework in the nearby outbuilding and this revealed a fragile joint – a disaster waiting to happen. A quick easing of the stopcock with WD-40, then turning it open and shut a number of times, permitted a solder repair to be made.
The SPAB has some tips for protecting old buildings from cold weather at http://www.spab.org.uk.
I was leaving the house the other morning when I became aware of a passer-by waiting in the snow for me. It turned out to be an elderly lady, Mrs Selby, who had lived in part of my property from the 1920s right up until just before I took possession. I knew she was now in sheltered accommodation in the town but this was the first time we had met.
Our chance encounter was timely. As well as handing her a Christmas card that had arrived at her old address, I was also able to raise the possibility of us getting together over the next few months to talk about her memories of living in the house. In line with good building conservation practice, I’m hoping to investigate the building and its history thoroughly before commencing any significant work.
Mrs Selby evidently has much to tell me. She has already mentioned an occasion in the 1940s when a lorry collided with the oversailing first floor wall, narrowly missing her but breaking a cast iron window frame. Fortunately, the pavement has since been widened to keep traffic further away.