Lab work

Last week Charlotte and I started the watching-brief on the clearance of the inside of the Morfa Copperworks laboratory. This is the first of the buildings to be prepared for renovation across the combined copperworks site. Unfortunately, we had to start with the laboratory because it is in a fairly poor state of repair, after a near catastrophic fire and the structural engineers were concerned it might fall down. This means that the debris from inside the building needs to be cleaned out, so that scaffolding can be put up to stop this from happening.

Having said that the Grade II Listed laboratory (LB 11690) is probably the prettiest building, architecturally, still standing at the copperworks. Built in the mid-19th century it has amongst other things a beautiful moulded cornice and frieze band (that’s the part of the wall directly below the eaves) in bath stone. When Taliesin Conservation, the company doing the renovation, looked at the cornices they discovered that blocks of stone were held in place by nothing more than their own weight and the pressure of the eaves above them! No wonder two of them had fallen down.

During the watching-brief we hope to find some of the equipment that the scientists would have used in the laboratory. As well as trying to get an idea of how the inside of the building was decorated.

On the first day we started to get a hint of this when a series of nice white glazed bricks, with rounded edges, were recovered from inside the first room. We think that these formed a partition wall somewhere further into the building. These bricks had a dual purpose as not only did they look nice, they were easy to clean in case of any chemical spills.

This is the remains of the laboratory roof, before Taliesin dismantled it, to give us access to the inside of the building.

This is the remains of the laboratory roof, before Taliesin dismantled it, to give us access to the inside of the building.

This is the roof of the Powerhouse, taken from the scaffolding around the laboratory.  This building used to house the steam engines that powered the copperworks and will be renovated soon.

This is the roof of the Powerhouse, taken from the scaffolding around the laboratory. This building used to house the steam engines that powered the copperworks and will be renovated soon.

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