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Historic Reading wall restored after decades in decay

An historic church wall, regarded as a public eyesore for years has been restored thanks to the work of Peppard Building Supplies customer Dunne & Co.


St Laurence’s Church wall in Reading’s beautiful Forbury area has been held up by scaffolding for almost 30 years to prevent it from collapsing onto a public footpath.


The Heritage Lottery funded renovation used bricks and stones sourced by Peppard to match the historic wall, which was originally built from a mix of handmade Georgian and Victorian bricks interspersed with stone from the ruined abbey.


The painstaking work, which was overseen by English Heritage, involved three different sizes, textures and colours of bricks, all of which were made to order using moulds of the original materials.


Dunne & Co, a building and restoration company established 30 years ago, specialises in the repair of period and listed buildings. St Laurence’s Church dates from the Norman period and is situated alongside the ruins of Saxon-era Reading Abbey, which was the final resting place of Henry I and destroyed in Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.


The company’s founder Kevin Dunne explained: “We regularly work with English Heritage and other conservation organisations on listed and period properties while undertaking works for several local listed churches and their affiliated historic buildings.


“St Laurence’s church wall restoration has been welcomed by the local community after being left in such a state of disrepair for several decades.


“We had to replicate three different kinds of bricks, which were sourced by Peppard who were very helpful in getting the moulds made and bricks manufactured.


“Peppard staff also helped us to replicate the original mortar mix using various types of sand.”


The church wall began to collapse decades ago, due to the growth of lime trees in the graveyard and the project also included civil engineering works to stabilise the structure.


“It took almost six months to complete, using a team of between two and eight, depending on the segment of the wall being restored, led by my son Daniel, who is a trained sculptor and fine artist,” Kevin added.


“The local interest has been very encouraging and we look forward to further work in Forbury in the future.”


Posted on November 4, 2015 by Claire Savage