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Cheshire community barn highlights demand for heritage skills

The work that has gone into the new community barn in the Cheshire village of Aldford is a living demonstration of the advanced heritage construction skills that exist among the area’s tradesmen and women.

The unique barn was commissioned by the Eaton Estate and Chester Renaissance and was build around a traditional green oak cruck frame, in a project coordinated by the Chester office of Patrick Parsons Consulting Engineers.

Cormac Harte, the principal structural engineer from Patrick Parsons, said that the specific type of barn was a very rare commission for them. There is, however, consistent demand for the heritage construction skills involved in the process, including traditional oak carpentry and brickwork, thatching, and wattle and daub panelling.

“Very few traditional cruck barns are commissioned nowadays, so this was a unique and exciting opportunity for the company,” he told Specification Online. “As we have worked on a number of heritage projects in the past, we were familiar with traditional carpentry methods – this experience was vital to the Aldford barn project in justifying the capacity of the traditional timber connections, ensuring they were sufficiently robust and able to satisfy building regulations.”

The frame of the barn – which features curved beams – and was sourced from six oak trees that were felled from the Eaton Estate, in which Aldford lies. Patrick Parsons was responsible for all of the civil and structural engineering involved in the project, designing the ground slab and drainage requirements for the structure, as well as the bespoke supports and traditional connections. The barn is intended to be a hub for outdoor community activities. Harte added, “It will be an important resource for the community and is a stunning example of what can be achieved by using a combination of modern and heritage building methods.”

Magnus Theobald, from Cheshire West & Chester Council Capital Delivery & Maintenance team, said that the expertise and skills that the company was able to deliver was a clear indication of the skills that are alive and kicking in the local workforce.

“Projects such as the Aldford barn keep traditional skills alive,” he told the publication. “It’s rare to see new thatched public buildings being constructed, so everyone involved should be very proud of what they’ve achieved.”