Meander Valley Gazette

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Mending our heritage

FeatureJoanne Eisemann
Dave Conway of Launceston, expertly applying new lime mortar to the inner walls of the Folk Museum, assisted by Ben Earle.   Photo | Mike Moores

Dave Conway of Launceston, expertly applying new lime mortar to the inner walls of the Folk Museum, assisted by Ben Earle.

Photo | Mike Moores

April 2019 | Wendy Laing

THE DELORAINE and Districts Folk Museum is being repaired and renovated. As the museum remains open to the public, visitors have found it interesting to watch the work and sometime ask questions about the renovations.

As a listed building urgently in need of repair, the Meander Valley Council has allocated $100,000 for the preservation work. Dave Conway, a contractor experienced in corrective conservation to heritage buildings has begun work.

The aim is to stop the rising damp and repair the damage caused by water that has been trapped in the old walls due to lack of ventilation when the museum was first built. A new ventilation system requiring installation of air drains and sub floor vents will prevent similar problems happening in the future. Old plaster and paint is first removed from the original brickwork. Dampness and mineral salts are then drawn out of the old walls by applying a ‘poultice’ similar to papier mâché.

This is left in place for two weeks and then the poultice is repeated. The walls will be replastered using traditional lime mortar, as used in the original building, made from local materials. Lime from Sibelco at Mole Creek is ‘slaked’ – a process where water is added to create a slurry which needs to be stored for a year or more. Local sand is mixed with the slaked lime to produce the lime mortar.

This is a breathable surface which will prevent dampness from building up again. The mortar would have been mixed with horsehair in the past, but now other fibres are used to add strength. Finally, the walls will be traditionally rendered and painted to further preserve them.

Originally built in 1863 as the Family and Commercial Inn, Mrs Alma Bramich donated the old inn and its grounds to the community of Deloraine in 1972 to help preserve the history of the area. Over 40,000 people visit the Deloraine and District Folk Museum every year.