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Behind the Scaffold at 127-130 High Street, Lowestoft

127-130 High Street stands tall on the west side of the road – a three storey, buff brick building, stretching 26m along the High Street. The building dates from 1869 when the High Street was widened, although was built in two phases, with no. 130 being a later phase dating to the early 20th century. The buildings were designed by the architect Mr Clemence for John Devereux, grocer and provisions merchant, ‘J. Devereux and Sons Stores’.

The site was identified for funding through the North Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone. The building was suffering from the effects of previous poor quality repairs, required extensive stone and mortar repairs, window repairs and replacements, as well as works to the shopfronts at ground floor.

Works started on site in Autumn 2022 and are expected to continue into the late Spring of 2023. A large scaffold structure has been installed to provide access for the specialist tradespeople working on site, so much of the repairs have been hidden behind the scaffold. We thought we’d share some of the incredible conservation works which have been taking place for this Think Lowestoft blog.

Specialist contractors, Aldis and May, have been carrying out a series of detailed conservation repairs to the brickwork, stone and mortars across the upper floors of the building, as well as works to improve the shopfronts on the ground floor.

The following image shows the condition of the stone capital on the corner of 130 High Street and Old Market Street. The image on the left shows multiple areas of cracked and damage stone. Using specialist conservation techniques, Aldis and May have used lime mortars to repair the capitals and reinstate the lost/damaged detailing. The restoration work shown in the righthand image was all completed using mortar and specialist craftspersonship, no new stone was used at all!

The works have also included steam cleaning the brickwork of the upper floors to remove sulphation deposits from pollutants from vehicles, which has also brightened the appearance of the building. The image above also shows on the left that more stubborn areas of sulphation around the triangle detail of the capital, which was drawn out using chemical poultices to remove this surface level dirt.

At ground floor, chemical poultices have also been used to strip 27 layers of paint from the ironwork of the shopfronts. The images show the various stages of the process. The left image shows the trials which were carried out to establish which chemicals would be most effective at lifting the paint, and also how long the chemicals would need to be left on for. The middle photo shows the appearance of the ironwork during the stripping process, and the image on the right shows the level of detail which can now be seen on the ironwork, following an application of an anti-oxidising prime coat. The ironwork will be painted black at the end of the works.

In addition, extensive repairs have been carried out to the sash windows, with a small number of windows needing to be replaced completely. The new windows are timber sashes which replicate the design of the original windows.

Works will be continuing into the Spring to complete the repairs to the stonework and shopfronts. As the stone repairs require the use of lime mortars, lime cannot be used below 5 degrees, and is therefore very difficult to use in the winter months. We will therefore be waiting for some warmer temperatures to complete the works through this phase of repairs.

This is just one of the many HAZ funded conservation projects underway in the Lowestoft Heritage Action Zones. Keep an eye out for future blogs about other buildings benefitting from conservation repairs and on the Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone social media pages for more updates.

For more information on the North Heritage Action Zone and for more information on the London Road, Lowestoft High Street Heritage Action Zone.