Regeneration expert completes work on historic high street scheme

Work to remove damaging paint from a listed building in Dorset on a regeneration project on one of the county’s most historic high streets has been completed.

Bournemouth-based building conservation expert Gary Elford was contracted to undertake the restoration work at the Grand Parade on Poole High Street.

The building in question was suffering from internal damp issues due to an incorrect, non-breathable paint finish being applied over the original limewash coat.

Gary used the Doff III superheated steam cleaning system – the latest and recently-launched iteration of the iconic machine from Gloucestershire pioneers Stonehealth – to carefully remove the paint layer and expose the original lime finish beneath.

The machine uses steam at 150 degrees C to create an extremely gentle cleaning operation which preserves the integrity of historic stonework.

The project in Poole was one of the first in the UK to see the new machine in action – launched last month after four years in development.

“It’s great to be able to put the Doff III to good use,” said Gary. “Unfortunately the existing paintwork is totally the wrong type of finish to be used on a Grade II listed building like this, so it was causing damp issues inside.

“These buildings were originally designed to allow water vapour to escape through the mortar joints and brickwork, so layering non-breathable paint over the top is a really bad idea.

“I was happy to be working with the council to rectify the problem and play my part in improving this part of Poole. The Doff III was perfect for this type of work and it was great to see it in use.”

Gary’s work is part of a wider project by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council  called the Heritage Action Zone which will focus on the area from the High Street to the historic Quayside. The regeneration work to the town centre location will fund repairs to historic buildings and bring vacant premises and upper floors back into use, especially for creative start-ups.

The work will also fund improvements to the public realm and pedestrian routes to make the town centre more attractive and accessible, in a bid to improve footfall and vibrancy.

Four years and a six figure sum have been invested in the development of the new machine, which features an improved, lighter, fully integrated pump requiring 50 per cent less power usage, a remote power control, an electronic temperature control system to reduce water consumption, and increased maximum hose length of 45 metres, while still achieving a steam heat of 150 degrees C at the end of the nozzle.

Angela Southern, Business Development Director at Stonehealth, said: “We care about the preservation of historic buildings and so it is important that contractors using our systems are properly trained in the right techniques and maintenance. Gary has been working with our machines for many years.

“Overall we’re delighted to see the new Doff in action – there’s a reason it’s the market leader and we expect to see it deployed in many more projects over coming months and years.”