I like to update the blog when we make substantial changes to the pub, to keep you all informed. This years project has been so significant that we are still a way off finishing but I don’t want you thinking that project Plough has ground to a halt so I thought I would pen an update on the project that we innocently refer to as ‘the garden’.
We started project garden on the 19th of February and it has had a minimum of two people full-time since then, and still going!
I am remiss in not having a good ‘before’ picture but I do have an excuse…. When we renovated the ladies toilets we dumped a lot of rubbish in the garden knowing that it was the next job. We also had a few exploratory forays with the digger in advance of works so what you see below is what we started with and almost what I took over.
Remember that a huge part of this project was dropping levels to remove the soil banked against the various parts of the building so excavation was the first order of the day. During this process we learned that the 1800 ish extension was in fact built using a well-known (and completely wrong) technique whereby a trench is dug and the wall built from the inside.
Whilst this history lesson is interesting we also learnt that outside walls had collapsed, breached the cavity and were part of the cause of the damp issues that the building suffers. To give it some perspective, in the far Southerly end of the site the soil level varied between just below picture rail height and windowsill.
Some basic ground clearance left us with a work site that would be a wet and unpleasant home for a while to come.
And also revealed that the horrible discovery of an ex wife’s maiden name looming over me, oh how I wish she still had that name!
The tight spot of the dig involved excavating between the pub and the adjacent street with an access point that, at its largest, was around 800 mm. This was always going to be the hardest part and my limited photography skills have done nothing to show the sheer enormity of the task at hand.
A ‘reach around’ dig:
Nature had been claiming the building:
We did manage to get a mini digger in and combined with a larger digger to drag it out we managed to make some progress:
Another bit of history in the original flint wall that bounded the pub:
And to add a sense of scale:
Piles of spoil became a very big part of life for a long time:
By the end of the excavation some 640 tonnes will have been removed from site! The outer skin brickwork was removed and section by section more soil was taken out to be replaced by hand poured reinforced concrete (as specified by my structural Engineer):
Slowly creeping into the corner, Engineers love a corner and hate removing them:
Leaving that small space at the end of May gave a sense of achievement, relief and also concern at the sheer scale of the remaining task:
The additional space soon found its own constraints in that there is only so much material that can be moved at a time. To clear spoil from site was a minimum of a three day operation for three men and a dump truck driver as everything had to taken to the front of site for removal.
Progress along the rear boundary was slow and involved numerous temporary fences for neighbours as we pushed further in with retaining walls. As the levels dropped we moved to block and fill rather than cast on site. By the end of June we were making some progress:
The decision was taken to remove a further outer wall rather than hack off and replace old render. All of the public facing walls have been replaced with manufactured stone because it looks good and (a critical point) its maintenance free:
With the rear boundary fenced we moved on to the extension, a minor project within a project that I had been trying to forget. The old lean to was removed and new drains put in. Oh yes and we moved the commercial gas main, well we were there anyway weren’t we and by now its really a case of ‘go hard or go home’:
Since this is a very picture heavy post I will stop there for today. Obviously the project has moved on considerably since those last pictures and I will share more with you soon. To give some more sense of scale let me assure you that nobody who has seen the garden hasn’t used both an expletive and the phrase ‘you’re not going anywhere are you’.
But as the enormity of the change emerges let me share some of my recent favourite comments:
“Wow it’s the biggest pub garden in Shanklin perfect for when people start using pubs again” – Thank you Simon you know how to cheer a pal up!
“Bloody hell, when I looked last time I couldn’t even imagine what you were seeing” – Cheers for humoring me the first time Crossy
And perhaps my favourite, a simple one:
“Thank you” – Mel, it makes a difference when you realise that some people acknowledge that what you are doing is motivated by something other than profit.