Stephen Newsom


Project Manager

CDM Co-ordinator


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  New Training Workshops and Exhibition Space
Scottish Lime Centre at Charlestown, Fife

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust was established in 1994 in response to growing concerns over the shortage of skills and understanding in the field of traditional building skills. The majority of surviving traditional buildings in Scotland are of masonry construction and their continuing survival is dependent on the availability of appropriate materials and skills.

The Fife coastal village of Charlestown was a major centre of lime production from around 1750 until the 1930's. The extensive lime quarries, the harbour and the lime-burning kilns were developed on the estates the Earls of Elgin, who also build for his workers a planned village that rivals New Lanark in Scotland's industrial awakening from the middle part of the 18th century.

It was therefore entirely appropriate that the Scottish Lime Centre should identify this location for their new headquarters. From acquiring an initial office base they sought to expand their permanent training facilities by repairing, altering and extending the former estate joiner's workshop.

An initial feasibility study confirmed the category C listed building was capable of providing the space required, with a modest extension of the incomplete east range. The client and architect agreed that unless absolutely essential no modern cement-based materials would be employed. The finished building would demonstrate the materials and techniques that the Scottish Lime Centre promotes, and would therefore itself form part of the permanent public display that is planned.

The building was essentially sound, although suffering from neglect through disuse. A large mound of deposited quarry waste dominated the west building, and had to be carefully removed to allow the north wall to be underpinned.

The choice of materials also aimed at reducing the amount of embodied energy and non-natural materials in construction. Original clay roof pantiles were carefully salvaged for re-use on the repaired and strengthened roof timbers. Salvaged bricks from an internal partition were used to carry out masonry repairs, and stone taken from newly formed openings was also re-used. Recycled hardcore was carted in return loads during the removal of surplus earth to the nearby landfill site.

The timber-framed extension has a breathing wall construction, with shredded waste newspaper insulation, and local larch external boarding. All internal faces of external walls were strapped and finished with traditional lath and lime plaster. Solid floors have a concrete base and membrane, but are topped with a thick lime concrete is that it can be batched and laid without daywork or expansion joints.

External masonry walls have lime harling finished with 5 coats of limewash made from local Charlestown limestone, burnt and slaked by the client. Original windows and doors were repaired, or replaced with new to match, thermal requirement were met with modern secondary glazing set behind the outer windows.

The project was competitively tendered to a restricted number of suitably skilled contractors who had experience of similar conservation work. The successful contractor, Ian Cumming of Perth, has responded to the project aims and delivered the completed building to the client within the six months contract period.

Link to: The Scottish Lime Centre