A £100,000, six month long restoration of the Clock Tower at the Salomons Estate near Tunbridge Wells has ensured the landmark building will remain standing for future generations to admire.
Built in 1876, lack of maintenance by its previous owners had left the tower in a very poor condition when the current owners, Markerstudy Group, took over the Salomons Estate in July 2013.
“What little work that had been done to the tower previously hadn’t been carried out to a particularly good standard,” said Manny Siegmund, Head of Maintenance and Property at Markerstudy Group.
“The wrong sort of brick had been used to patch various spots, but the biggest problem we came across was that sand and cement mixes had been used for patching and pointing, rather than lime mortar.”
Manny explained that, unlike sand and cement, lime mortar lets trapped moisture out, allowing the mortar to move with the building without cracking and damaging the brickwork.
While large areas of badly weathered brickwork were replaced with local Sevenoaks Gault bricks, two men carried out the time consuming task of grinding out the joints to allow for repointing.
Two others repaired cracks in the brickwork before the joints were repointed using lime mortar.
“It was a painstaking piece of work that took the four men six months to complete,” said Manny.
“Once that had been completed, the clock at the top of the tower was taken away and refurbished before being reinstalled.”
The work on the tower has been welcomed by the Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, which champions the conservation and improvement of the town.
Dr Alastair Tod (correct) of the society said: “Having visited the tower we are impressed with the work that has been done.
“It occupies a prominent position and it is good news that the estate has acted to preserve this landmark building.”
Manny Siegmund added: “We are investing considerably in improving and maintaining Salomons and the work on the tower was crucial and needed carrying out urgently.
“Now that the errors and neglect of previous years have been corrected, regular routine maintenance will mean that it will remain a local landmark for many years to come.”