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When will Wycombe’s Old Town Hall get a proper roof?

| January 16, 2015

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One lunchtime last week yours truly found myself walking along Queen Victoria Road.

Pausing for a few moment to catch my breath I looked up to admire Wycombe’s magnificent former Town Hall.

Anyone passing Queen Victoria Road last year will remember the scaffolding that adorned the building as it underwent renovation work.

The building is over 110 years old now. Designed by the architects C E Bateman and Alfred Hale of Birmingham the foundation stone was laid on 5th November 1903 however the building did not open until 1904.

The building was afforded Grade II listed status in January 1996 making it one of the more recent buildings in Wycombe to be protected.

As I stood there admiring the wonderful architecture one could not help but notice there are no tiles on the roof. Instead roofing felt and wooden battens are all that protect the insides of the building from the elements.

According to an article on the Wycombe District Council website the renovation work was prompted by the discovery that some of the slates on the roof were fragmenting. The slates are known are Colleywestons and the production of these slates requires a freezing process making them hard to produce.

The article on the Wycombe District Council website goes on to say that ‘the amount of slates required for the Old Town Hall roof will take some months to produce‘ and ‘in the meantime, the deteriorating roof has been stripped and given a temporary waterproof overcoat‘. The re-slating work was expected to be undertaken in the autumn of 2014.

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Well, the autumn of 2014 has long passed, it’s fairly obvious the re-slating work has not been done unless of course it was done and some very efficient thieves have been at work.

I don’t know about you but surely it seems a bit daft to strip the slates off the roof of a Grade II listed building without having the new ones to put on?

The Colleyweston slates were used widely on building of the period so surely their not that hard to get hold of?

Come to think of it I wonder if the roofing felt we currently see will remain when the tiles are put back on?

I’m no expert on early 20th Century construction methods but none of the buildings of the period that my good self has seen have ever had modern style roofing felt on them.

Queen Victoria Road is a very busy thoroughfare in the town, what will all the people passing by think when they see such an important building without any roofing slates?

Taking the roof off a Grade II listed building without having the new slates to put back on leaving it exposed to the elements for months… It could only happen in Wycombe….

What do you think?

*My next blog will be published on Tuesday evening around 8pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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