Lime wash skills help maintain Maria Island heritage buildings
The World Heritage listed Darlington Probation Station at Maria Island National Park was the setting for a weekend workshop last month, which detailed the finer points of working with lime as a component of heritage building maintenance.
Trainers at the course included Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) historic heritage officer Peter Rigozzi, Maria Island ranger Chris Howard and stonemason Edrei Stanton.
The small band of volunteers plus several others experienced from last year’s lime workshop went on to put their lime wash skills to the test, tackling the mess hall, chapel, Smith O’Brien’s and the clergyman’s quarters, which are all part of the Darlington Probation Station.
Peter Rigozzi said that the workshop was particularly significant as several of the participants, including David and Trauti Reynolds and Dave Harris, are actively involved in heritage conservation efforts not only on Maria Island, but also Maatsuyker and other reserves with historic buildings.
“The workshop was very valuable in helping to up-skill these volunteers,” Mr Rigozzi said.
“The Friends of Maria Island Wildcare volunteer group has members with a broad range of skills, who are accustomed to undertaking works on the historic structures on Maria Island. In the current works program it is anticipated that some of the works will be undertaken by the group, in particular, lime washing of the masonry buildings at Darlington.”
Adequate training is important for those intending to work with lime wash as it is highly caustic and hazardous to prepare and use. Lime is the basis of most mortars, plasters and renders for buildings constructed in Tasmania before the 1880s and is used for external finishing in the form of lime wash. Buildings of the Darlington Probation Station were lime washed during a major conservation works program in 2008 and PWS staff are hopeful that a program of annual lime washing can be undertaken as part of cyclical maintenance at the site.
Mr Rigozzi said the workshop was also valuable as the efforts will provide a significant component of ‘in kind’ effort from the PWS as part of a funding agreement between the Australian Government’s Your Community Heritage grant of $118,000 for essential maintenance works at the Darlington precinct.
This program focuses on preserving the cultural heritage values of the Darlington on Maria Island. The scope of works includes essential weatherproofing and maintenance of buildings and structural stabilisations such as brick chimneys and the provision of drainage to buildings with moisture-related structural issues. Repairs are planned for the exterior of the Darlington buildings with the aim of preserving their historic fabric as well as addressing safety issues such as broken balustrades. Lime washing of the inside and outside of the brick, sandstone and timber convict era buildings and painting of timber weatherboards buildings is planned to weatherproof the buildings, improve the appearance of the precinct and enhance the visitor experience. The works will be completed by December 2013.
Maria Island ranger Chris Howard said that the efforts from the workshop including the lime wash efforts helped reach a milestone for at least one of the Darlington buildings.
“It’s been very satisfying for us in that we’ve been working on a range of repairs to the clergyman’s quarters for the past 18 months and this latest workshop has put the finishing touches to the building,” Chris said.
“In the post-convict period the clergyman’s quarters were converted for use as a garage. A 1928 Chevy that has its origins in the island’s history, belonging to the French family and later Rex Gatenby, the island’s first ranger, was moved from a storage shed into the building in December last year. With stabilisation and restoration works now complete we will soon open the building to the public, with the Chevy as the prime attraction.”
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