Structural Repair of Historic Buildings with Edward Morton and Gez Pegram

Ref: B3D13283

Location: West Dean

About this course

This course is of special value to those who wish to gain a new perspective in applying engineering principles to the conservation of historic structures.

Various permanent repair methods which might be applied to historic buildings are discussed and there will be debate about the merits of hidden repairs as against more obvious repairs. Not all historic buildings are as hazardous as they sometimes seem and we will discuss alternatives to the carrying out of repairs to apparently unstable structures.

The programme covers inspecting, monitoring and repair works ranging from pointing and grouting to tying and underpinning. It also includes practical exercises, demonstrations and trials of equipment and remedial monitoring techniques. Use will be made of case studies to illustrate various points, discussion from the floor will be encouraged and there will be opportunity for discussion in small groups to consider specific problems. There will also be a visit to the Weald and Downland Living Museum.

The course will be of value to architects, conservation officers, masons, carpenters and others involved in conservation, as well as to engineers.

Course Description

Day 1
6.45pm- Welcome talk 
Dinner- 7pm- 7.45pm
8pm- 9.30pm Introduction to the course; Who We Are and What We Do; Philosophy of Conservation; Discussion point 1:  What is Conservation? Reporting back   

Day 2   
Understanding your building
The inspection of historic buildings, understanding the structure, what does its history say to you?
If we understand how a building was constructed, we will begin to understand what might be wrong with it and be better prepared to design conservation and repair methods. 
Discussion point 2:  The old library paper exercise; Reporting back; The basics of structural behaviour 
The ‘do nothing’ option: ways of avoiding intervention with examples of why you may choose this option and any associated benefits and risks.
Monitoring equipment and methods; Load testing; Floor loadings
Visit the Weald and Downland Living Museum - a private tour by their foremost expert on timber repairs, who has done much of the repair work himself
Looking at timber repairs
Beginning to do something - how to approach the start of your structural repair process
Scaffolding and temporary works;
Discussion point 3:  Thinking through the processes; Reporting back
Dinner- 7pm- 7.45pm
8pm- 9.30pm- You’ll have the opportunity to share any problem cases and get advice from expert tutors and other course participants.

Day 3  
The ‘do nothing’ option
Masonry repairs; Ties and anchors; Discussion point 4:  Strengthening timber beams; Reporting back; Timber beam strengthening and repairs
Visit to the Engine Shed
The ‘don’t do very much’ option
Pointing and grouting; Looking at more timber repairs; A look at repairs for metal
Minor intervention case studies
8pm- 9.30pm- You’ll have the opportunity to share any problem cases and get advice from expert tutors and other course participants.

Day 4   
A miscellany of thoughts
The structural aspects of service installations: Cantilever stairs, Traffic vibrations, The effects of climate change on structures,Boundary walls, Jacking structures, Moving structures.
Conservation of modern movement buildings; Limecrete
Visit to the Ruinette
The major intervention option
Conservation of Ironbridge; Underpinning; Case studies
Case studies
The value of accreditation
Issue of certificates and depart.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

The informal evening sessions provide an opportunity for participants to present a structural problem for group discussion. Please come prepared with a case you would like to present; pictures/slides and/or drawings would be useful.


Ed Morton - conservation tutor at West Dean College

Edward Morton

Ed Morton is Managing Director of The Morton Partnership and an Engineer Accredited in Conservation. He has over 30 years’ experience in conservation and is currently Cathedral Engineer to Westminster Abbey, York Minster, Canterbury, Durham, Southwark and Ely Cathedrals. 


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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