Restoration project looks to wool to curb carbon emissions

Masham is set to become home to a new project testing sheep’s wool as a plastic-free insulator – and to get wool more widely used in buildings across the country.

15 Silver Street is currently undergoing extensive redevelopments to be transformed into Peacock & Verity, a new community and heritage centre for the town. It will include a Victorian grocers, an Edwardian-style tearoom, a Post Office main counter, and a new heritage centre celebrating the story of Masham. Four apartments will also be created as part of the redevelopment, managed by Karbon Homes and kept exclusively for local people at affordable rents.

The 300 year old building is being completely refurbished, and project organisers are finding every way to make it as eco-friendly as possible. One of them is using sheep’s wool insulation as part of the refurbishments.

They will also be leading on a new initiative called Sheepish which aims to get sheep’s wool insulation used in the building of new homes across the country. Peacock & Verity will be the first test site where contractors and builders can learn how to install sheep’s wool insulation. They will also build a supply chain of farmers, insulation producers and social housing providers, creating a green circle economy based in Yorkshire.

The project is backed by £38,722 from the North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub and £16,000 from North Yorkshire Council, as part of a larger grant of £273,000 towards the wider conversion of Peacock & Verity.

Jan Reed, project manager at P&V, said, “We’re really excited to be leading the Sheepish project at Peacock & Verity. We didn’t just want to refurbish our own building; we also wanted to do everything we can to share the knowledge and skills to make other buildings more sustainable.

“Sheep’s wool is the perfect insulator for traditional stone buildings – not only is it a warm blanket, but the wool’s structure helps to wick moisture away and is a natural fire retardant. And most importantly, it’s environmentally friendly. It lasts for decades and can be composted at the end of its life, unlike man-made insulation which is often full of plastic.”

She added, “It makes so much sense for us to be using it at Peacock & Verity – we’re from Masham after all. If it’s good enough for sheep on a windy moor, it’s good enough for us to use in our buildings.”

The links between Masham and sheep farming go back thousands of years. Sheep farming is thought to have been introduced to the area by Viking settlers, and Masham is still well known for its annual Sheep Fair which takes place at the end of September. There’s even a breed of sheep named after the town.

Karen Oliver-Spry, hub manager for the North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub said, “The North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub is all about using local assets to create clean energy and to make buildings across the region easier and cheaper to heat – what better way to utilise an often overlooked by-product from the region’s plentiful sheep population!’

“Bringing local people and organisations together to reuse, recycle and repurpose materials which otherwise may end up as waste is a huge part of that work and this project could have very interesting implications for improving the energy efficiency of buildings across the North East and Yorkshire and beyond – and we are delighted to be able to support it through our Energy Project Enabling Fund.”

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for culture, arts and housing, Cllr Simon Myers, said, “We are delighted to have supported this project, which has been a number of years in the making. I can think of no better way to celebrate Masham’s rich heritage than by   refurbishment and conversion of this important building as lasting testimony to the local community. Its green credentials will be the envy of many.”

James Kilroy, head of land and partnerships for Yorkshire at Karbon Homes, added, “Peacock & Verity is a project we’re proud to be involved in, providing much-needed affordable homes for local people who often find themselves priced out of living in the area.

“Karbon is committed in ensuring all new homes developed have high energy performance which helps to lower energy bills for our customers. This project is special that with the use of sheep’s wool insulation the energy efficiency of these homes links directly to the community’s heritage, utilising a plentiful local material.”