Articles & Case Studies

Lanes Group surveys centuries-old culverts at National Trust house

Posted: Monday 18th May 2015

Drainage and maintenance specialist Lanes Group has helped investigate stone culverts thought to be up to 300 years old at a National Trust stately home that is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the north east of England.

The National Trust needed to make substantial changes to the drainage system at Grade I listed Wallington Hall, near Morpeth, in Northumberland, to take pressure off its sewage treatment system.

It called in Joyce Construction and Civils to lead the work. When their investigations revealed a network of stone culverts, they needed expert help to fully understand how they functioned.

Lanes Group's Newcastle Depot carried out detailed CCTV HD video drainage surveys of the culverts, which were lined with sandstone slabs.

All the Lanes team's actions were overseen, authorised and recorded by an archaeologist appointed by the National Trust, to ensure the site was preserved, and to be on hand in case the work revealed any important finds.

Joyce Construction and Civils Operations Manager Shaun Myerscough said: "The culverts were taking rainwater from the roof downpipes of the main hall, so were among the oldest drainage on the site.

"A key part of our work was to understand exactly what each pipe did and where it ran, because our job was to split the surface water drainage from the foul water drainage.

"Lanes Group team did a very good job of working with our team and the archaeologist, and providing highly-detailed survey reports that allowed us to plan our civil engineering work with confidence."

Previously, all surface water and foul water had been channelled into a wastewater treatment plant, which had reached its capacity.

To avoid having to install a new or second one, the decision was made to divert the surface water, allowing it to run into natural water courses, significantly reducing pressure on the wastewater treatment plant.

Lanes Group engineers surveyed 200 metres of rectangular stone culverts, which were about 18 inches in diameter, and made up about 40 per cent of the surface water drainage system for the hall and associated buildings.

Trevor Sawyer, Area Development Manager for the Lanes Newcastle Depot, said: "The culverts were in remarkably good condition, given their age. We were very pleased to be able to help Joyce Construction and Civils and the National Trust with this project.

"We have a great deal of experience in working on conservation sites. Our skills, as national leaders in no dig sewer inspection and repairs, are ideally suited to work which requires no disruption to heritage structures.

National Trust Building Surveyor Brian Rochester said: "The project involved updating the drainage infrastructure, and was much needed.

"It included separating surface and foul water in and around Wallington Estate. Due to the archaeological sensitivity of the area we were working in, we adapted and reused as much of the original pipework and culverts as we could.

"The Lanes Group team helped achieve this through detailed CCTV surveys, giving a greater understanding of what we could leave in place or would have to be renewed. This gave us time and cost savings.

"We have a responsibility to protect the buildings and their infrastructure in our care, and we are very satisfied with the work undertaken by Lanes Group as part of a project with Joyce Construction and Civils as the main contractor.

"To have this project completed ahead of a busy new season of visitors coming to Wallington, was of paramount importance to us."

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